Dominican cigars

Indian Motorcycle Habano Robusto

In 1995 Rocky Patel partnered up with Philip Zanghi, who’s father owned Indian Motorcycles and together they started Indian Tabac. In 2002 Zanghi sold the rights to Rocky Patel to focus on other parts of the cigar business and Rocky Patel slowly faded out the Indian Tabac name, converting the company to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. late 2014 Zanghi announced that he bought back the rights to the Indian Tabac name and would bring a new line of cigars to the market, Indian Motorcycles, in cooperation with the current owners of the Indian Motorcycles company.


I got this cigar at the HQ of the Dutch distributer where I had a meeting with the owner. He gave me a few samples to smoke, so here’s a review of the Indian Motorcycles Habano Robusto, a cigar made with Central American filler, including Dominican, a Dominican binder and an Ecuador Habano wrapper. The cigar is made at the Del Los Reyes/Debonaire House factory on the Dominican Republic and measures 5×50.


The wrapper is has a nice, dark brown color and is oily and glossy with a few thin veins and just an amazing looker. The construction feels good and the cap is nice. The ring is great, its a smudgy beige, like someone who’s been working on a motorcycle grabbed the ring with a little oil on his fingers and then wiped it off, a very nice detail. It has a gray circle with the name Indian Motorcycles 1901 and the a shiny red circle within and the famous Indian head in beige. On the bottom theres a golden banner with white letters saying premium cigar. This is a cigar I would grab from a humidor just because of the looks and the ring if I didn’t knew it. The aroma is very strong, barnyard with hay and ammonia.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is great and I taste raw tobacco. After I lit the cigar I taste a nice mildly sweet espresso. After a few puffs the espresso gets accompanied by a little acidic earth flavor. After a third I taste wood with a little salt in the back of my throat. I also taste some peanuts and pepper. Halfway I also taste some lemon, nice and refreshing. Slowly I taste more nuts, more pepper and some spices.


The draw is good. The ash is silvery gray, dense and firm. The burn is straight as an arrow and very slow. The smoke is medium thick, personally I would have liked it a bit thicker. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I will get a few more.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Del Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Indian Motorcycles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capadura Series Robusto (808, 848, 858 and 898 Extra Ligero Series)

I don’t know a lot about this brand, I don’t know how I got the cigars, when I got them, where I got them and why I got them, but I have a 808 series, a 848 series, a 858 series and a898 extra ligero series in my humidor, all in the 5×50 robusto size and decided to do another series review instead of 4 separate reviews, just like I did with the 00 series. A google search taught me that the cigars are made on the Dominican Republic and that the brand is owned by the Luba Corporation which is owned by Ruth Elizabeth Baptista. Google also told me it is a very old brand, dating back to the 1800’s and was once part of the General Cigars portfolio.

Capadura 808 Series Robusto

 


The Capadura 808 Series are supposed to be the mildest from the series and the Connecticut Shade wrapper from Ecuador is a tell tale sign that it is a milder cigar. The binder is from the Dominican Republic just as the four types of Olor and Piloto filler. I’m not the biggest fan of Connecticut Shade wrappers although I have started to appreciate the wrapper in the last few months so who knows, I might enjoy it.


When I release the cigar from it’s cellophane I see a shiny, greasy and pale wrapper with a bunch of small veins, as is often the case with a Connecticut Shade wrapper. The rings are beautiful, a brown foot ring with golden outlines, white letters saying 808 series and a beautiful detailed ring with several shades of brown, gold and white with medals. The brown coloring doesn’t look to good on the pale wrapper though, but the ring itself if pretty and the print quality is high. The cigar feels evenly packed, the head is nice and round but the cigar feels a bit oval on the touch. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of chocolate, hay and pepper.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good and I taste a musty and mild harsh raisin. After lighting the cigar I taste a musty hay and coffee. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness and a little chocolate. After an inch I taste a mild musty nutty flavor with a hint of chocolate. The chocolate is getting stronger but the mustiness too. Slowly I start to taste pepper in the aftertaste. Halfway I taste a medium strong nuts flavor but the mustiness is gone. The nuts and pepper get to full flavored and I like it. The flavors mellow down a bit to medium to medium full, but are still very tasty.


The draw is on the tough side. The burn is straight as an arrow. The light colored ash is beautiful, firm and dense. The smoke is a little thin and low in volume. There is a slow but good evolution. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not mind smoking it again, the flavors are good, the looks, draw and smoke need work though.

Score: 88
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Capadura 848 Series Robusto


There is not much to tell about the Capadura 848 series and that’s because I don’t know a lot about it and can’t find a lot of information too. I can tell that the filler is made from four different tobaccos and that the wrapper is a Havana 2000 from Nicaragua. According to the description I found its a medium bodied cigars but I’ll be my own judge about that.


The top ring is identical to the Capadura 808 Series ring but the foot ring is a shade lighter, just a tiny shade and you have to hold the cigars together to spot is and has different numbers on it of course. The wrapper has a nice light to medium brown color, its not very shiny or oily and only has one thin vein. The construction has a clear soft spot right below the ring but the shape feels better than the oval 808 Series. The mild aroma is a bit soapy.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar cutter. The cold draw is great with a spicy raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a sweet yet earthy flavor with a clove but a little rough, flavors aren’t well rounded. After half an inch I taste an unpleasant dirt flavor with rotten wood. Slowly the cigar is turning harsh, just dirt and wood but harsh.   After two thirds the cigar is still harsh but a little less and the dirt and wood change to metallic nuts and pepper.


The draw is perfect. The ash is frayed, the color is light gray. The smoke is gray, thin and medium in volume. The burn is oke, not completely straight but still reasonable. The medium full bodied and flavored cigar doesn’t have much balance and complexity. The smoke time is an hour and I tossed it with an inch to go.

Would I buy this cigar again? Brrrrr no.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80 

Capadura 858 Series Robusto


As for the google search, all I find is information on the 808, 848, 898 and the 898 extra ligero blends but nothing on the 858 blends except for a forum post in Dutch and some information on an Austrian webshop. It could be that this is a Europe only blend, but I can’t recall seeing the cigars in a humidor in the European shops I have visited. And the Austrian site mentions that this is a evolution of Capadoro cigars, another brand with little much googable information. But at least I know the blend now: Dominican and Brazilian tobacco as filler, a Dominican binder and Arapiraca from Brazil as a wrapper.


The wrapper is typical Brazilian, it’s dark but a little rough on the eye and it has a mild oily shine. The construction feels good but the cigar doesn’t feel completely round but a little egg shaped and the cap is a single cap, not a Cuban style triple cap. The rings make up for it, the foot ring is bring with golden outlines an white letters saying 858 series while the regular ring is brown with black and gold and a white C and white Capadura. Very detailed, well printed, cigar ring. The aroma is strong and is a mix between dark chocolates some pepper and a barnyard, but the dark chocolate is the main aroma.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste some mild raisin, lemon and chocolate. After lighting I taste a strong espresso with pepper flavor and some sweetness.  After half an inch the cigar is more earthy with some lemon and pepper, the flavors lost some strength. After a third the cigar turns salty with some green herbs and lime with still a peppery aftertaste. Halfway I taste earthy notes and a little nutmeg. The final third starts nutty with a little cilantro. Its getting hard to keep the cigar lit.


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is thick and white. The light colored ash is firm. The burn needs a few touch ups though. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. After and hour and a half i tossed the cigar with an inch and a half to go because I couldn’t keep the cigar lit.

Would I buy this cigar again?  It’s a decent cigar but no, not exciting enough.

Score: 87
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Capadura 898 Extra Ligero Series Robusto


The 898 series comes in two versions, a regular Capadura 898 Series and a stronger Capadura 898 Extra Ligero series. Now the blend is exactly the same with a filler consisting from Dominican Pilato Cubano and Nicaraguan Corojo and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper but for the extra ligero series they used the highest primings of the tobacco to create a little extra kick.


The first thing that I notice when I release the cigar from the cellophane is the extra ring, not just the regular ring and a foot ring (which is a shade lighter than the 848 and the 858) but in between a beige to brown fading ring with the same golden outlines as the foot ring and white letters saying Extra Ligero. The wrapper is dark and it looks a bit dry and typical Brazilian rustic. The construction feels good, evenly packed, nice shape and a beautiful round head. The aroma is medium strong and dark, like after heavy rainfall in the woods in the fall mixed with manure.


I cut the cigar with my guillotine cutter and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a faint raisin. After lighting I taste dirt, coffee and some dark chocolate. The flavors are unrefined, no subtlety at all. After half an inch I taste a musty leather with some pepper and green leaves. Halfway I taste wood, harsh and metallic, with pepper. The harshness is getting stronger.


The draw is a little on the loose side but the smoke is great, full and thick. The ash is light colored with a dark smear. It is dense and firm. The burn is quite straight. This is a full bodied medium flavored cigar with not a lot of evolution. After an hour with an inch and a half to go I had to toss the cigar, I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Score: 72
number72 

Categories: 72, 80, 87, 88, Capadura, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Juan Clemente Classic & Club Selection Small Robusto

I found two almost similar looking cigars in my humidor, the only difference is a little bit of a color difference on the rings and the wrapper so I thought it might just be discoloration of the ring due to aging, but who googling I found out that they are actually two different blends, the Juan Clemente Club Selection and the Juan Clemente Classic, both in a small robusto size of 4 1/2×48.

Juan Clemente is the brain child of the Frenchman Jean Clement who started his brand in 1975 at the state owned La Tabacalera factory. His focus was mainly on the European market back in the day but even though Jean Clemente passed away a few years ago, his cigars are still available worldwide, including the United States.

Juan Clemente Club Selection Small Robusto


The cigar looks good, a beautiful medium brown, smooth wrapper with one noticeable vein and a silky feel. The construction feels good but the head has two pimples like a teenager. The aroma is quite grassy and fresh to my surprise but it fits the white greenish ring. I say white greenish because the ring looks like it was white once but has a discoloration problem. The top ring is small, curvy and says Juan Clemente in golden letters while the foot ring says the same, but not in a curly font, with two golden lines, one above and one below the text.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great and has a fresh taste of raw tobacco. After lighting I taste nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon all in a well balanced mix. I taste some pepper in the aftertaste. After a third I taste a harsh wood, nutmeg and pepper mixture. Halfway I taste a creamy, mild vanilla flavored wood with a little lime, though with a harshness that I don’t like. Near the end the harshness grows with sweet cinnamon.


The draw is fine, the smoke is thick and good in volume. The ash is white and firm. The burn is beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is fifty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No!

Score: 82
number82

Juan Clemente Classic Small Robusto


The ring of this cigar is identical to the Club Selection, only in bright, glossy white instead of the strange color of the latter one. Compare the pictures and you can understand why I wasn’t convinced that it were two blends instead of one blend with a slightly discolored ring. The wrapper is a lighter shade, mild oily with a few minor veins. The construction has some softer spots, not too soft though but a little inconsistent with the rest of the cigar. The medium strong aroma is cocoa with fresh wood.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is fine but quite tasteless. While removing the foot ring the wrapper cracks as the ring was stuck to the wrapper, I hope that doesn’t influence the burn. I taste toast, nutmeg, chili flakes, vanilla and lime. Now that sounds like a flavor bomb but the flavors are muted. After half an inch the flavors aren’t muted any longer and I taste a sharp birch wood with chili flavor, a little on the harsh side. Halfway I taste toast with some walnut and a slightly harsh peppery birch.


The draw is fine and so is the smoke, which is thick enough, enough in volume and a nice white color. The almost perfect white ash is beautiful. I had to correct the burn a few times. This cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is about an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? No, I’ll pass.

Score: 82
number82

Categories: 82, Dominican cigars, Juan Clemente, La Tabacalera | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Puros de Hostos Churchill & Box Pressed Toro

I’ve not written about the Puros de Hostos Lancero before and thats a surprise. This Dominican boutique brand that I came across while being part of the tasting panel for the Belgian/Dutch cigar magazine El Gusto blew me away. It had such an amazing palate that I brought a cigar to my then employer and even though the price was relatively high we decided to start carrying the cigars, and for a while they sold like hotcakes. For this review I will smoke two cigars, the Churchill and the Box Pressed Toro.

The unique thing about the Puros de Hostos Commendador is that the tobacco is fermented four times, while usually tobacco is fermented twice and Habanos prides themselves for fermenting the Cohiba tobacco three times. Yet Gustavo de Hostos, who’s also a crooner, diplomat and businessman, wanted to ferment to tobacco four times before the cigars were made and so it is done. As a proud Dominican he wanted a Dominican puro, so all tobacco used is Dominican.

Puros de Hostos Comendador Churchill

I just love the look of a Churchill sized cigar, long and du to the length the cigars look thiner then they are. This one measures 7×48. The wrapper is a milk chocolate brown with hardly any vins, it looks thin and fragile but it isn’t. The rings are very busy with a lot of patterns in gold on a black label and the foot ring has the same, a nice golden lettering but the decorations make it information overload. The construction has the right amount of sponginess and a beautifully formed cap. The aroma is very mild and is a mixture of mild chocolate and mint.


Since it’s a Dominican puro I decided to cut the cigar with the xikar cutter from the procigar festival 2014, that came with the gift box. The cold draw is great, a perfect amount of resistance. I taste spicy raw tobacco and a hint of mint. After lighting I taste a mild acidic earthy flavor. Slowly the lime like acid gets a bit stronger, with the earthy flavor and some black pepper. After an inch the lime fades a bit and is replaced with a little bit of honey. After a third I taste a beautiful, well balanced, mixture of citrus, pepper, wood, earthiness with a hint of spices and if I snowed this cigar blind I wouldn’t have guessed it’s Dominican. The flavors grow in strength without losing the smoothness. The pepper turns to white pepper and is predominant. Suddenly the honey returns, with some fresh wood, dill and the white pepper. The final third starts with chocolate with wood, honey and pepper. Then the flavor gets nutty for a bit with a lime and pepper aftertaste. Near the end the cigar turns woody with a nice sweetness.


The draw is just perfect, nothing less. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume but it’s getting thicker and thicker along the way. The light gray ash is beautifully layered and quite firm, but it’s crooked though. The burn is pretty straight. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I want more, the flavor profile is unique.

Score: 91
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Puros de Hostos Comendador Box Pressed Toro

Now this cigar didn’t made it to the market in The Netherlands if I remember correctly, but I might be mistaken. Box pressed, some love it, some hate it and I am impartial to it as long as its a good cigar. This Puros de Hostos looks great, intimidating because of the length and ring gauge of 6 1/2×54 and the dark brown colored wrapper with a lot of oil. I see one vein on the left side of the cigar but that doesn’t make the cigar less of a looker. The construction feels good, well packed and most importantly, evenly packed. The ring is the same as the Churchill and the aroma is medium strong, its like standing in a hay stack.


Because of the 54 ring I opted to punch the cigar. The cold draw is a bit loose, I taste black pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee and oak, with a little hint of pepper. After half an inch I taste spicy oak with cinnamon and a little sugar. After a third I taste lemon, oak, spices and a little white pepper. At the end I taste minty chocolate.


The draw is a bit on the loose side. The smoke is great, thick, white and a lot in volume. The ash is light gray and beautifully layered. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full flavored and full bodied, yet smooth, complex and has depth. The smoke time is exactly two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Del Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Puros de Hostos | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arturo Fuente Añejo 77 Shark

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

Fuente Friday – Fuente Añejo Shark

Within a year after lighting my first cigar, which was a Cohiba Siglo II by the way, and reading a lot of information about the hobby I decided to smoke an Arturo Fuente Opus X because that was supposed to be the bomb. I can’t say that it was a bad cigar, because it wasn’t, but it was a let down, it’s an expensive cigar, the expectations were sky high and it didn’t give me the satisfaction that I thought it would give me so I stayed away from Opus for a few years until I was given an Opus X Shark. The size was intriguing, a box pressed foot with a torpedo top? How cool! And after smoking that cigar I was a believer, what a great stick, still expensive but worth the money. I guess I was just too unexperienced when I smoked my first Opus X.

 


And then you tell everybody that the Opus X shark is one of the best cigars that you’ve ever smoked until a few friends, who’s opinions about cigars I respect highly, say “nah, good cigar but the Fuente Anejo shark is better”. So the hunt began and I found some that I loved. About 3 years later my then employer got a lot of boxes is for a decent price of €22.50 per cigar so I bought a few and tonight I feel like lighting one for a review. Now if you don’t know the story about the Anejo, a hurricane left Fuente with a shortage of Opus X wrapper and instead of halting the production they decided to use a different wrapper, a 5 year old Connecticut Broadleaf that had been aging in cognac barrels and called the line Anejo. So in essence it’s an Opus X with a different wrapper.

 


The wrapper is beautiful, a flawless, dark, rustic wrapper with a silky touch and a little oil. The construction is unique and very good with that box pressed foot and the torpedo head. The aroma is mild and reminds me of a barnyard. The cigar has a cloth foot ring to protect the foot and a red ring with the golden Fuente logo and white letters A. Fuente Anejo. It surprises me that they went for the regular Fuente logo and not a twist on the Opus X logo as this cigar comes closed to Opus X than to a regular Fuente.

 


I had to use my xikar cutter instead of my preferred punch due to the vitola. The cold draw is fine and I taste a sweetness with some pepper and a bit of a cognac flavor, very mild though. I taste coffee with some metal and peanut shells.  After three puffs I taste coffee with some pepper and a little natural sweetness. After a centimeter I taste a caramel like sweetness with wood and a hint of cognac. Slowly the flavor changes a little with a little citrus added to dark oak, mild caramel and some black pepper. Halfway I taste caramel, lime, pepper and nuts, all subtle and soft yet not mild. A little later I taste coffee again with some chocolate and pepper. The final part is nice salty, nutty, peppery and woody.

 


The white ash is super dense and very firm. The smoke is medium thick, I prefer more smoke, but the draw is great. The smoke is great, slow and pretty straight. The cigar is flavorful yet subtle, a cigar for experienced smokers, not because of the strength but because of the complexity. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is a hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Every once in a while as a treat.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Arturo Fuente, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

708 Barber Pole Shaggy & Juniors

Recently I was visiting the headquarters of a company that is thinking about going into cigars and the owner gave me a few cigars to try, amongst them were these 708 Shaggy & Juniors Barber pole by Brothers Cigars. I knew nothing about the brand so I googled and it turns out it is a Dominican made cigar named after the area code of Chicago where the brothers Zaid & Firas Eid have their shop.

As I said, the cigar is made on the Dominican Republic and I’ve seen and smoked several barber pole cigars, mostly with two kinds of wrappers. This cigar is actually made with three wrappers, Connecticut Shade, Habano and Maduro, so that sets it apart from the others. The Shaggy Barber Pole measures 7 1/2 inch but the bottom part is shaggy, and the ring gauge is 52 while the Juniors Barber Pole is a 4×44 petit corona.

708 Shaggy Barber Pole


I like the look, 3 different color wrappers of which the Connecticut shade has the least appealing look because of a vein. In the shaggy foot I can see different colors of tobacco too. I wouldn’t call it a real shaggy foot though, just uncut, as it is pressed and firm, not shaggy. The construction feels great, the head is well rounded and the cap is applied perfectly. The only comment I can give is that the different tobaccos aren’t all applied in an even thickness, the Babano wrapper is a smaller strip than the Maduro or Connecticut. The ring is simple, Beige in the centre fading to brown with a simple brown logo saying 708 cigars in a handwritten font. The secondary ring has the barber pole style and says Barber Pole, just in case you hadn’t noticed. The rings are printed on nice glossy paper. The aroma is very strong, hay, straw and barnyard.


When I wet the cap to punch it I notice the sweetened cap, that’s not a positive in my book. The cold draw is fine and all I taste is that chemical sweetener. After carefully lighting the cigar I taste that sweetness with a little coffee, but it’s so overpowered by that naar sweetness that it’s almost not detectable. After the shaggy foot I just taste that nasty sweetness, I’m afraid this will be a long and painful review. The sweetness is fading a little bit and instead I taste a harshness of poor quality tobacco and a hint of chocolate. After a third the sweetness has faded to an acceptable level and I taste cheap chocolate and some soil. The flavor doesn’t change much, the second third starts out with the earth flavor and the chemical sweetness. Halfway the sweetness is finally gone, I taste green herbs, spicy, like rucola salad. The final third it’s wood with earth, pepper and herbs. The final few puffs are spicy and peppery.


The draw is fine. The smoke is white but too thin for my liking. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is good, quite straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, the evolution picks up halfway. The smoke time is three hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I still have one, guess I’ll have to cut the whole sweetened tip off before lighting it. The sweetened tip caused the score to be at least 5 points lower than it would have gotten without that nasty sweetness.

Score: 82
number82

708 Juniors Barber Pole


The day after, the next 708 Barber Pole but this time the 4×40 Juniors. Just as the Shaggy this cigar has three different wrappers, Connecticut Shade, Habano and Maduro and again the strips of tobacco are different in size, the maduro is way thinner than the others. The ring is a carbon copy of the Shaggy and the construction is equally good. The aroma is just as strong as the shaggy, very strong for a petit corona, and again hay, straw and barnyard.


Due to the thin size I cut the cigar instead of punching it. I’m smoking outside in an almost wind free spot of my garden for a change due to the perfect summer weather, so I will light the cigar with a jet flame. The cold draw is a bit loose and I taste some of the sweetness from the sweetened tip but not as strong as on the shaggy and some raw tobacco. I taste a spicy coffee and earthy flavor with just a hint of sweetness, the first puff is so much better than the shaggy. After a quarter of an inch the cigar gets a little harsh. After a third I don’t taste any sweetness just a sharp, spicy and mild salty fresh wood flavor and some earth. Slowly the cigar gets a little harsh again with more pepper. Near the end I taste more wood.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick, white and there’s a lot of it. The ash is salt and pepper colored and firm. This is a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar with not a lot of evolution but then again, it’s too short to have a lot of evolution. The smoke time is forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? I would pick this over the shaggy but won’t pay for it.

Score: 85
number85

Categories: 708 Cigars, 82, 85, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero

From 2010 till 2015, when the Dutch FDA closed us down, I was one of the people behind the Dutch Big Smoke. One day, in the early summer of 2012, I went to the zoo with my nephew and my phone rings, unknown number, I pick up and it was the marketing manager of Royal Agio telling me that they wanted to introduce a new Balmoral cigar, the Balmoral Anejo 18, and asked me of we could fit them in at the Big Smoke mid september. Now Balmoral is mainly known for their shortfillers that, in The Netherlands, are sold in convenience stores, gas stations etc and their line of longfillers are dated and way under the radar of the cigar geeks like me, the only Balmoral I liked at the moment was the Balmoral Dominican Selection, a short filler dry cigar with Dominican tobacco and its a very good cigar for a short filler. So my response was blunt “why do you think we want a gas station cigar on the Big Smoke?”. Boy, was I wrong there!


A few weeks later Jaco de Kramer, who now owns Jacks’ Cigar bar in Rotterdam, tells me that he was at a barbecue and one of the Wintermans (owners of Agio) was there and he smoked that unreleased cigar, according to him it was great. I decided to call the Agio Marketing manager and told him to meet me, my employer, my Big Smoke co-organizer and Ed van Dalen, a well known cigar retailer, in the Van Dalen Lounge in Rotterdam the next Friday with some samples so we could try them and make up our minds. So that Friday he showed up, we all cut the cigar, lit it and after 3 puffs I look at the Agio guy and go “ok, how do you want to proceed from here?”, that cigar was great, and like I was so wrong to shut him down on that first phone call. Now the Anejo 18 had an 18 year old wrapper, so after 2 years of production they ran out of it and the follow up was the Balmoral Anejo XO, which came pretty close to the Anejo 18. I jumped for joy when I heard Agio would do a limited run of my favorite vitola, a 7×40 lancero. First they were released in the States but then 750 cigars (75 boxes of 10) came to The Netherlands. I managed to buy two at Primera Lelycentre, the shop of Ronald Riecker, a very passionated tobacco retailer in Lelystad.


I just love the size, not just because a Lancero has a beautiful wrapper to filler ratio, the wrapper gives most of the flavor, because of the low amount of filler the cigar gets more dynamic, its also an elegant cigar due to the length and the slenderness of the ring gauge. For the blend Agio used Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Dominican Olor binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and as expected from Brazilian wrappers it is a bit rustic yet it also has a mild oily shine. A nice detail is the small pig tail. The construction feels good. The cigar has a deep, dark and relatively strong barnyard aroma, like walking into a stable with some cows but before they pissed all over the floor. The cigar has a double ring, a gray foot band with a white and gold line at the bottom and golden letters saying Anejo XO and in smaller letters Lancero FT. The normal band is white and gray with gray and golden letters. It says Balmoral on top in white and the B logo in gold, near the bottom it says Lancero FT in gray and underneath edicion 2016 limitada in white and god. The band is simple but tasteful, no coloring, its very clear what it is and I like it.


Because of the ring gauge and the pig tail I cut the cigar and this time I used a cutter from the Spanish company HF Barcelona. The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is mild spicy. After I lit the cigar with my Ronson lighter I taste a very pleasant full coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste some dark chocolate. Soon after I also taste pepper, it’s all balanced.

After in inch the coffee is gone and I taste spices, chocolate and some herbs. A third in I taste herbs, cedar and some nuts with a peppery aftertaste. Every few puffs I taste a faint chocolate too. Halfway there is a little citrus flavor too. When I review I don’t eat anything and I only drink water but I think this cigar would be spectacular with some dark chocolate. Slowly but surely the cigar gains strength and becomes more peppery. After two thirds pepper is the main flavor but every now and then I still taste the chocolates.


The draw is perfect, 100 out of 100 points. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is frayed, light gray with dark spots but it is firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is full bodied and full of strong full flavors yet well balanced and full of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m afraid they are all sold out, I would by a box or two, or three, or four, or five if possible.

Score: 95

95

Categories: 95, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Antonius Red Label Robusto

Antonius is made at Intercigar, the factory of the Dutch cigar manufacturer Maurice Koks. His grandfather used to make Dutch dry cured shortfillers in The Netherlands back in the day and Maurice decided years later to step into his grandfathers footsteps and make cigars too. He packed up all he had and moved to the Dominican Republic and that’s something I admire and respect, moving away to another country to chase your dreams takes balls especially when you downgrade when it comes to luxury, social security, safety, healthcare and income, although when moving to the Dominican you upgrade in climate and relaxation I guess. It’s something I always wanted to do but never had the guts to do, and when I finally had the balls and the reasons, after I married my Asian wife, she decided she rather lives in The Netherlands instead of me coming to Singapore so here I am. Not that I’m complaining though, I have a nice house with my man cave, walk in humidor, waterfront garden, little speed boat and friends & family close so life is good.


Well, Maurice created a cigar and named it after his grandfather Antonius. For The Netherlands he signed a deal with a group of retailers, all independent retailers but they work together in a cooperation, called Compaenen and at my local Compaenen shop I saw these new cigars years ago, I guess its 7 or 8 years ago by now. There were two different blends available, both in 3 packs for €12 per pack, which made it a €4 cigar. I bought them, smoked one of each and gave the others away with a warning that they were horrible. And I guess I wasn’t the only one with that opinion as it took the Compaenen group years and years to get rid of their order, they couldn’t even give them away, that’s how bad they were received by the Dutch public. I found the red label in my humidor recently and decided to see what age did with it. The wrapper is a habano rosado over Dominican and Nicaraguan filler and it’s made at the Dominican Republic.


The cigar comes wrapped in both cedar and cellophane which is a nice way to protect the cigar and I hope that the cedar rubbed of after all these years and improved the flavor of the cigar. The downside of the cedar is that the cellophane didn’t turn yellow, something I always like when I unwrap a cigar that has been aging for a long time. The wrapper is quite pale but smooth and oily. The construction feels good although at the head I can clearly see a vein of the binder sticking out like a pimple on a teenager. The aroma is nice, manure with some cedar and quite strong for an aged cigar. The ring is nice, burgundy top with a crest that has the logo of Den Bosch, the Dutch city where Koks grew up, and the logo of Santiago , where he spends his time now. All with golden details. The bottom is yellow with a red banner and white letters Antonius.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw good, I taste dried raisin and some pepper. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame and I taste a musty flavor that reminds me of Connecticut Shade wrapper with some pepper. After a few puffs I taste fried egg (!?!?) with lemon. After a centimeter I taste sugar, harsh cedar, pepper and lemon. Halfway I taste cedar with some chocolate and a metallic lemon flavor. After two thirds the mustiness is back, some harshness is still around and the pepper grew stronger.


The smoke is good, thick and plentiful. The draw is great, no complaints there. The ash is white with black smears and firm. The burn is crooked though. It’s a medium bodied, medium plus flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I won’t. I wish I could write something different but I can’t. It got better over the years but it’s still not good enough for me.

Score: 85
number85

Categories: 85, Antonius, Dominican cigars, Intercigar | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Kristoff Classic Blend Toro

Last september, at the Intertabac trade show I ran into Glen Case and Ward from Kristoff, a brand that I used to represent when I was still employed at my previous employer and Ward gave me their new release for the European market, the Kristoff Classic Blend. Now my American readers might think “I don’t know that one”, well, its just the Kristoff Habano but somehow the Cubans got Habano trademarked so that can’t be used. A lot of brands like Oliva, Perdomo and many others use ‘Sun Grown’ instead but Kristoff decided to go with Classic for this Brazilian Habano wrapped cigar with the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The brand won an award at the Cigarjournal dinner too, so it was a succesful trip for the company.


Ever since I smoked my first Kristoff cigar I loved the brand, the cigars look good, taste good and are budget friendly priced but unfortunately we can only get a few blends in The Netherlands and this isn’t one of them so I saved the cigar that Ward gave me for a review and today I decided it was time to light it. The cigar, like all but one Kristoff cigars, are made at the Charles Fairmorn factory in Santiago, DR and I guess they are the best client of Charles Fairmorn as I don’t hear a lot about that factory. I know they make Epic cigars too, but that is just a very small brand here in The Netherlands and judging from the Social Media information I get Kristoff if a much bigger brand in the USA too than Epic.


The cigar has the same look as all other Kristoff cigars, that means a closed foot, which I love, and a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the pigtail and closed foot, combined with the dark, shiny and oily wrapper make this cigar a looker. The ring is silver colored with brown details and beige letters saying ‘hencho a mano dominicana’ and ‘Kristoff’ while the smaller bottom ring says ‘classic blend’ in the same colors. The aroma is a bit manure, a bit horse and a bit freshly plowed farmfield, medium strong.


Because of the pigtail I had no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good and I taste raisin and pepper. I used my vintage Ronson to light the cigar and I taste a mild coffee. After a centimeter I still taste the coffee but now with a nice metallic aftertaste. After an inch I taste wood with a little bit of nuts and some lime, in the aftertaste I taste a mild pepper. After a third the main flavor is lemon with some cocoa, cedar and vanilla, the flavors are subtle. The lemon gets a little less stronger while the cocoa turns into chocolate. Later the cigar turns full cedar with pepper and just a little lemon. A few puffs later I taste some lightly salted peanuts too. Slowly the pepper gains some strength. Near the end I taste nuts with autumn leaves and a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is a bit too loose and that leads to a poor amount of thin smoke in the beginning but after a few puffs the draw improved and with that the smoke too. I had to correct the burn too in the first centimeter but after that it was straight and easy going. The ash is beautifully white. I would call this a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes. Especially the last third is fantastic.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

La Flor Dominicana La Nox

Now here I will talk about my previous employer and job again as mentioned in so many of my recent reviews and that’s because I met a lot of great industry people and learned a lot in my 5 years at The Longfiller Company. One of the people I met are the ultimate gentleman Litto Gomez and his son Tony. First time I met Litto was when he came to The Netherlands when The Longfiller Company was distributing La Flor Dominicana and on my yearly vacation to Florida I always went for lunch with Litto, who made time in his weekends just for me & my friends even though his weekends are sacred family time, something I am grateful for. On one of those lunches he brought his sons Litto Jr and Anthony. Tony just started working for his father at the factory in the Dominican and wasn’t involved in the blending process when we met. We had a great lunch at the rooftop of a nice restaurant somewhere in Miami, it was a memorable lunch.


Now for some reason the La Flor Dominicana sales came to a stop, it was like hitting a brick wall and both me and my boss didn’t have a clue why. The quality of the cigars was good as always, the price didn’t change so why the sales came to a stop was a huge mystery and my employer decided not to order anymore, the last new release of La Flor Dominicana we ordered was the Chapter one. The whole sales stop killed the professional relationship, that was so good before that Litto even made a limited Meaner Digger for The Netherlands. Now on a personal level, the relationship stayed intact and I always have a great time with Tony and Litto at Intertabac. As a cigar geek I was bummed that I didn’t get to try all the new releases, and that’s why my former employer is a better professional as me because the geek in me would have ordered anyway and would end up with a warehouse full of cigars just so I could try them myself. Now truth be said, the last few months I worked for The Longfiller Company I did sell all our remaining La Flor Dominicana stock and the demand was definitely up from the consumer and therefore also from the shopowners. Time for La Flor Dominicana to get back on the Dutch market.


Since I read about the La Flor Dominicana La Nox, and seeing the mouthwatering pictures of this stunning cigar, I wanted to try it and at the Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy event at Intertabac, where the cigar won the award for best Dominican cigar of 2016, I had the chance to grab one. Instead of smoking it on the spot I restrained myself and kept it to review it. Today is the day of the review. The cigar looks amazing, the super dark and oily Brazilian wrapper is flawless and the double ring, black with light blue “La Nox” lettering on the bottom ring and the white moon and LFD lettering on the light blue clouds on the top ring are a perfect match to that dark and oily wrapper. The combination is just a 10 out of 10, if I only judged the cigars on their appearance this would be the cigar of the year for many years to come. The rest of the blend consists of a Mexican San Andres wrapper and Dominican filler from their own fields. The construction feels good, no complaints here either. The cigar has a salty aroma to it with some wood, not too strong and not the barnyard aroma that I smell so often in cigars.


I punched the thick wrapper and tested the cold draw, which gave me quite some resistance and a peppery oatmeal with a mild minty freshness. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste a medium strong coffee flavor with sweetness you can expect from Brazilian tobacco and some oatmeal. After a few puffs I also taste some herbs and spices. After a centimeter I also taste a mild chocolate for just a second with herbs and some pepper. I also taste a little sweetness from the Brazilian wrapper. The flavors are thick, meaty and sticky just like I expected just from the looks.

After little more than an inch I taste the sweetness with oak and some citrus and some spicy herbs. Every now and then I also taste some cocoa. The backdrop of the flavors are earthy. After a third I get a flavor that reminds me of slightly salted peanuts with some citrus. The sweetness is gone, I still taste some pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper grows stronger. The cocoa shows up every now and then, just for a puff or two. After two thirds I also taste a mild nutty flavor on that still earthy undertone with some citrus. After two thirds the nutty flavor grows in strength.


The smoke starts out thin but plenty in volume but after a few puffs the smoke gets to a medium plus thickness. The draw is a little on the tough side, probably would be better if i had cut the cigar from the start as it improved greatly after I cut it with my Xikar xi2 cutter. The ash is white and firm. This cigar is full bodied, full of nicotine and full flavored. The burn is good, but I needed to touch up once to correct a little. The body to flavor ratio is great and there is plenty of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they become available on the Dutch market I’m definitely picking up a few and I want an empty box just as a piece of art for my man cave.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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