Dominican cigars

Epic Maduro Lancero

A few years ago the Epic brand showed up in The Netherlands and to be honest, I did smoke a few and they weren’t to my liking. But a few friends of mine love the cigar and keep raving about the Epic Maduro line and the lancero in particular so I decided to give it another go and bought a lancero if this line. And I hope that I like it, because it means that I smoked a good cigar and I have met owner Dean Parsons a few time and wish him nothing but success.


Dean chose the Charles Fairmorn factory as his partner to make the Epic cigars and that’s not a bad choice, one of my favorite Dominican brands, Kristoff, is made there too. The Epic Maduro is made with Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, a Cameroon binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca maduro wrapper and just from that blend I expect some sweetness, spices and strength. The sticker on the back shows that it’s a little longer and thicker than the Cuban lancero size, which I see as the official size with an extra added 2 ring gauge and half an inch making this a 7 1/2×40 cigar.


The wrapper is dark but you can see a lighter color under the darker smears and that makes me wonder if the wrapper is cooked, the amount of oil and the way it shines enhance that feeling. The cigar feels well rolled, I do see a few veins and a little imperfection at the cap but I know from experience how hard it is to apply a cap, especially on a cigar so thin. The rings are nice, I like the fact that the black and silver Epic ring, with a nice red accent, isn’t a regular shaped ring but a cut out of the cursive Epic logo. The ring is well printed. The secondary ring has the same black and silver letters with a red accent and red rings on the top and bottom, I personally would have made the red lines smaller but who am i? The cigar has a medium aroma of manure but with a strong and surprising mint smell.


Due to the small ring I had no other option than to cut. The cold draw is fantastic. I taste a little toast, mild spicy. After lighting it’s a dark and earthy flavor profile with mud and coffee. The Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro wrapper provides some sweetness too, a sugar syrup like sweetness. After almost an inch i taste acidic wood with a creamy chocolate on the background and a faint vanilla. Before the first third ends I taste wood and toast with some herbs, all still with a acidic flavor but the chocolate cream is gone. The herbs are gaining strength and that’s probably the Cameroon binder weighing in. Halfway I taste wood with dirt again, no sweetness and a little vinegar. Soon the nuances change again, the dirt makes places for winter spices. The final third starts with pepper and gingerbread. Slowly I get more spices and pepper.


The draw is flawless and the ash is white, which gives a nice contrast with the dark wrapper. The ash is layered. The light gray smoke is thick and full. This is a medium plus bodied cigar, and the flavor is medium plus too. The smoke time is ninety five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? The construction is top notch, the cigar has plenty of evolution but it’s just not for my palate.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Epic | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Kristoff GC Robusto

I met Kristoff owner Glen Case a few years ago at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund, Germany right after my then employer decided to distribute the brand. And it sold, like hotcakes, due to the cool look with the closed foot and the pigtail, the packaging with the loose tobacco, the quality of the cigars, the flavor and the price. It was a home run and ever since we always have a little chat even though I no longer work for that company.


The GC series never made it to The Netherlands though, so I was glad that Glen gave me a robusto at the most recent intertabac trade show to review and he said that it was his favorite Kristoff offering. Now I haven’t smoked all of them and so far the Cameroon blend is my favorite but maybe this one will change that, keep reading and you’ll find out. The cigar is available in four vitolas, a robusto, torpedo, churchill and a gordo.


The Brazilian maduro wrapper looks great, dark and a little rough but the roughness fits the color. The pig tail and closed foot are Kristoff signatures by now and add that to an evenly packed cigar for a great construction. The ring is burgundy with golden letters and a silver & white banner. The medium strong aroma reminds me of charred wood and manure.


I cut the cigar since punching isn’t an option with the pigtail. The cold draw is fine, I taste licorice, raisin and pepper. After lighting I taste a strong and full coffee with earthy tones and a sugar sweetness. After half a centimeter I taste wood, sweetness and a hefty pepper. Halfway I taste a wood with a little licorice, some pepper and a little lemon in the aftertaste. The flavors are very meaty and peppery. The final third is peppery with a great dose of lemon.


The draw is good. The smoke is a little thin, light gray but the volume is good. The silver gray ash has beautiful rings, is dense and is firm. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar with a perfect burn. The smoke time is an hour and fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope this cigar makes it to the Dutch market.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balmoral Añejo XO Gran Magnifico

Last year, when I smoked the Balmoral Anejo XO Lancero, I told the story on how the Balmoral Anejo line surprised and shocked me. I never thought highly of the Balmoral longfillers but that Anejo 18 and the Anejo XO that followed the Anejo 18 made me completely change my mind, great cigars. When I was a novice cigar smoker the short filler Balmoral Dominican Selection was one of my go to cigars though, and it’s a great company, but the Anejo 18 & XO elevated the company.


Now maybe you’ve seen the video of my mancave, and every now and then friends come over for an evening of cigars. Last time I had friends over, one of them handed me the latest limited edition of the Balmoral Anejo XO series, the Gran Magnifico, a 6×56 figurado made with Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, Dominican binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, all aged tobacco and after rolling the cigars get a minimum of six months to rest so the flavors can get married. Only 14,000 cigars were made, 1400 boxes of 10.


The clean ring is great, just three colors, gray and white, with some gold in the lettering, high quality printing with a matching foot ring to protect the foot of the cigar. And the construction is fantastic too, the foot has a 46 ring, then the cigar gets to a 56 ring at a third of the length to end in a torpedo shaped head. Unique and probably very difficult to roll, yet the construction feels flawless. The coffee colored wrapper is glossy and dull at the same time with a few veins but then again, Brazilian wrappers are never the best looking wrappers but the taste matters. The cigar has a strong and deep aroma of straw, hay, barnyard and manure.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is peppery and perfect. After lighting I taste chocolate, pepper and an earthy flavor.  The balance is great. After an inch I still taste that dark chocolate with straw, hay and wood. Slowly a mild pepper shows up. Halfway it’s straw, pepper and with that dark chocolate on the back. I also taste some peanuts. Later I taste some natural sweetness. The final third starts nutty, walnuts and hazelnuts with pepper.


The draw is great, could be a little touch tighter but only a very little touch. The smoke is white, thick and full. The layered ash is light gray and firm. This cigar is subtle and well balanced. I would say it’s medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they are still to be found, yeah!

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gurkha Ghost Shadow

I have done a handful of Gurkha reviews and to be honest, most weren’t that impressive to me. I think the problem with the brand is that they don’t have DNA, their cigars are all made in different factories, the brand focusses on marketing and does crazy stuff with super expensive cigars dropped in super expensive alcohol and other marketing tricks. That doesn’t help the reputation of the brand amongst serious cigar smokers like me. But this Gurkja Ghost, I always thought that one was quite enjoyable, maybe because it’s made at PDR, a factory I like.


Now, even though most of the cigars are a miss, I can’t say the same about their sales manager Juan Lopez, I met him years ago in Miami in a cigar bar, the next day me and my friend went to the Gurkha office and that’s beautiful. From the outside its a boring office building, the first floor is just cubicles but then upstairs a beautiful lounge, like you’re back in 1800’s Asia, with a huge bar full of expensive liquor and a secret room where all the blends are kept. And Juan hooked us up with cigars, backpacks, knives and all sorts of cool items. So it was cool to see Juan at Intertabac this year, where he handed me a few cigars to smoke.


The wrapper is typical Brazilian arapiraca, a bit rough to look at with sturdy veins, not thick but sturdy. The color is dark and even though, so that makes up for it and the ring fits the wrapper. It is black and silver, with the Gurkha logo and scary lettering saying ghost. The ring is different than what you usually find in humidors. The construction is great, the triple cap is straight. The cigar has a strong earthy smell, earthy as if you’re walking in nature, early in the morning after a good rainfall.


I cut the cigar with a butterfly cutter from Xikar. The cold draw is good. I taste tobacco and some pepper. I taste a strong coffee after lighting the cigar with my soft flame lighter. A few puffs later I taste a mild acidic oak with cocoa bean. Halfway I taste a mild pepper with some lime and wood. A little later some honey sweetness shows up too. The final third I taste a nice, mildly sweet, wood with some spices, all balanced though. The flavors become very nice, wood, mocha, sugar, chocolate all in a creamy way.


The draw is great, the light ash has beautiful rings and it’s firm. The smoke is medium thick, medium full. The burn is close to perfect. I would call this cigar medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a pleasant cigar, not the best I had but enjoyable.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Gurkha, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bespoke Traditional Cottontail

Even though we have so many mutual friends and we have been Facebook friends for a while, I never met Jeremy Casdagli in person until my friend Nasier introduced us at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund last september. We chatted a little about tobacco and Jeremy was so kind to give me the Bespoke Traditional Cottontail for a review on my blog, well, as promised, here’s the review.


The cottontail is a vitola that was extinct for over half a century until Bespoke started making this vitola again, its a 5 inch long cigar that starts out with a ring 52, a robusto you might say but at the foot it’s 62 ring gauge and that makes it a figurado. Now I’m no fan of big ring gauges but because of this shape I’m intrigued on how it smokes and what it does for the development of flavors since the filler to wrapper ratio changes from start to finish.


The moment I take the cigar out of the cellophane I am hit by a strong aroma, hay and straw, very nice. The shape of the cigar and the closed foot are very unique and I love it. The wrapper has a nice coffee color, a little oil and no real visible veins, its a smooth looking cigar. The green and golden ring is very traditional, as the name suggests, not specifically my taste but of a good quality printing.


I used my Xikar double guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is crazy hard but that’s because of the closed foot. I taste spices and pepper. I used my vintage lighter to light the cigar. After lighting the draw opens and I taste a nice, smooth coffee with some nutmeg and a honey sweetness. After a third I taste creamy buttery toast and cedar with cinnamon and nutmeg. A bit lily French toast. Halfway I taste a creamy vanilla, like melted vanilla ice cream with some toast. The final third is more like a five spice mix with a little bit of pepper and some vanilla in the aftertaste.


The draw is fine. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn started a little off, it’s hard to get an even burn with a closed door but it corrected itself. The smoke is thin though, unfortunately. This is a medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar.  The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t mind smoking it more often.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Bespoke, Dominican cigars, KBF | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill

Years ago, I’m guessing five or six years ago I met Hawk, a Norwegian gentleman with his own Dominican cigar brands, Hawk and Amero, made by Willis Cabreras, who briefly had his own brand before he had to close his factory down. I tried some of the cigars, they weren’t for my palate but you can’t like them all can you? Then all of a sudden, three years ago, no Amero/Hawk booth at intertabac, just like two years ago. No mentions of the brand anymore so I thought Hawk gave up.


Last year, tucked away in a corner of hall 4 at the Intertabac trade show I saw Hawk, he was busy but his German distributer told me that they parted ways with Willis and teamed up with the legendary Ernesto Perez Carrillo for a new brand, Viking, honoring the history of Hawk’s fatherland. And I smoked the Viking Viking robusto which amazed me, I really liked that cigar. This year I had the pleasure to talk to Hawk again and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few cigars, the Viking Viking but also the two blends I hadn’t tried yet, the Norseman and the Nordic Warrior, which I am reviewing now.


This 7×54 Churchill is made with Nicaraguan binder and filler and a smooth Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador that feels like velvet to the touch. The color is mocha and the ring is amazing. Its a metal alloy folded around the cigar and its in the shape of a viking with a classic viking helmet. The metal is gold colored with black letters and details. Absolutely unique and a nice touch. The cigar feels well made and the little pigtail on top is always nice to see. The aroma is strong and very spicy and herbal like, cilantro, parsley, those kinds of aromas.


Because of the pig tail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is surprisingly easy for a Churchill and quite peppery. I lit the cigar with a vintage soft flame, I taste a full coffee with nutmeg and spices. After a centimeter I taste lemon with soft wood and five spice, balanced and smooth. I even retrohale without a burning sensation in my nose. After a third I taste pepper, herbs and wood, all balanced. Slowly the pepper tones down a little, the wood gets a little stronger. Halfway it’s just wood with herbs like nasturtium, spicy and full of flavor. The final third sees the return of the pepper. With an inch and a half to go I also taste some floral notes, with the wood, herbs and pepper.


The draw is great resulting in a full, thick, white smoke. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they become available in The Netherlands soon, I love this cigar.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

San Pedro de Macoris Ecuador Robusto

Yesterday I wrote about Agio cigars latest release, the San Pedro de Macoris line and I reviewed the Brazil blend. Today I’ll be smoking the second blend, the Ecuador blend, made with a Connecticut Shade wrapper grown in Ecuador, Dominican Olor as a binder and filler consisting from Brazilian tobacco and Dominican Olor and Piloto Ligero. I got this cigar at the same shop as the Brazil version, Piet van Kuyk in Eindhoven


I don’t know if this budget friendly cigar, €4.50 in The Netherlands, is available on the American market or will be available on the American market. Agio used to be distributed by Drew Estate but recently they parted ways and Agio is on its own now on the American market, although they still distribute Drew Estate in several European countries. I can only imagine that Agio will release these San Pedro de Macoris in the USA too once their office is up and running.


As with the Brazil blend, the designers of the ring made good use of the colors of the flag. The rooster logo is in yellow, the lines on the ring are in red and blue so the Ecuadorean flag is represented, add the silver letters and you have a slick modern ring. The wrapper is slightly pale but still quite dark for a Connecticut shade cigar. I see one vein on this well shaped cigar. The cigar has a strong smell, quite ammonia rich like a stable in the morning when the cows just were released from a night in the shelter and before the farmer cleaned out the sawdust and straw that covered the concrete floor.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mildly acidic with white pepper. After lighting I taste earthy coffee with a sharp edge. There is a woody flavor too and spices. The coffee disappears. After a third I taste lemon with cedar and herbs. Halfway I taste lemon, a mild musty cedar, a little cinnamon and sugar.


The draw is a bit easy.  The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is a bit off. The thin wrapper cracks halfway. The cigar is medium bodied medium flavored. There is little evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than the Brazil but still not a cigar for me.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto

San Pedro de Macoris is a city about an hour from Santo Domingo and it is know for the sugarplantations, tobacco and famous Dominican baseball players. And it is where Agio has their factory where they produce the famous Balmoral cigars. It’s also where these San Pedro de Macoris cigars are made, named after the city to honor the workers in the factory and out on the tobacco fields.

 


The cigars got released in The Netherlands a few months ago but I hadn’t tried them until I visited Piet van Kuyk cigars in the city of Eindhoven and got one of each blend for a review. The Brazil blend of the San Pedro de Macoris is made from Dominican Olor, Piloto Ligero and some Brazilian tobacco for the filler, a Dominican Olor as binder and a Sun Grown Arapiraca wrapper from Brazil. The cigars are available in the sizes robusto, corona and perla, I smoked the robusto for this review.

 


I like the ring, which is smooth, black with a green rooster, silver lettering and a good use of the national colors of Brazil, green and yellow. It’s a quite modern looking ring, not a copy of the new Camacho rings, not even in the same style yet it has the same modern feel. The wrapper is dark with some smears, and dull. It is smoother than what I’m used to from Brazilian tobacco though. What strikes me is how well rounded the head of this cigar is, perfect construction. The cigar feels well packed too. The aroma is strong, farmland is what comes to mind, but farmland that’s being worked on when the air is full of aroma.

 


I punched the cigar, the binder and wrapper are thick and the cold draw is a little tight. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and taste coffee.  The coffee turns earthy soon with a mild chemical sweetness, like the aspartame they use in diet sodas. I also taste some lime and some low quality milk chocolate. After a third it’s just the aspartame. Halfway the cheap chocolate return on the background.

 


The draw is good. The ash is quite dark, the layers are very clear and firm. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness. The color is light gray. The evolution is not dynamic, it’s actually quite boring. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. Technically the cigar is great, but the flavors aren’t for me. Nice budget cigar for incidental smokers though.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A. Flores El Trovador

Abe Flores handed me this 4 1/2×50 Petit Belicoso of El Trovador when he was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and to be honest, I had never heard of the cigar. That’s not strange because they haven’t been available on the Dutch market yet even though the cigars were released on the American market over a year ago. The translation of El Trovador is The troubadour which is fitting since Abe Flores used to be a professional bass player when he was younger.


Even though the cigar is made at the PDR factory on the Dominican Republic, there is not a shred of Dominican tobacco in this cigar. The filler is vintage Nicaraguan, the cigar spots a double Nicaraguan binder and the wrapper is from Ecuador. And for the artwork Abe found inspiration in Cuba again, since this is a upgraded and updated version of the Montecristo label. The sad part is, and I told Abe, that his cigars are good enough not to need copied Cuban rings.


The reddish yet dark Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper looks great on this box pressed cigar, you can see the veins in the wrapper but since they’ve been flattened the surface is smooth. The cigar is well rolled with a beautiful top and a simple, clear and well printed dark brown ring with golden details and white lettering. The aroma is strong and dark, charred wood like with a little barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is perfect, I taste tobacco and pepper.  After lighting I taste coffee and pepper. Soon it changes to leather with a tiny bit of dark chocolate. After a third I taste a carrot like flavor with pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with spices, pepper and a hint of cacao. I also get some floral notes.


The draw is perfect. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The smoke started out thin but turns thicker and filler quick. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice short smoke, I would get more.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, A. Flores, Dominican cigars, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Davidoff 702 Series 2000

At the Dutch Big Smoke, which took place in the weekend of 16 & 17 september in Amsterdam & Almere, Davidoff introduced their 702 series to the Dutch audience. Now I was involved with the first 5 Big Smokes before the Dutch FDA shot us down, and my former Big Smoke partner decided for a different set up after a year of absence, a set up that is allowed within the strict Dutch regulations. I wasn’t involved and I didn’t like the set up. I was at one of the participating shops though with Riste from Jas Sum Kral and Juan Martinez (Joya de Nicaragua), Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia), Alex Svensson (Cigars International) and George Sosa (Alec Bradley) were there too.


Anyhow, on the second day of the event the Davidoff rep walked in, I have known him for years, and I jokingly say “hey, you didn’t bring me the new cigar?”. He reached into his pocket and handed me the Davidoff 702 series 2000. The binder and filler are the same as the regular production Davidoff as far as I know but the wrapper is a tobacco created from different Cuban strains and grown in Ecuador and it’s the same as the 2009 limited edition, but now in a regular production setting.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I notice how dark the wrapper is and it’s thick, creating a wrinkle at the foot because of a vein. The ring is Davidoff quality, classic but well printed and the secondary ring uses the same white and gold by being split in a golden top with white letters 2000 and a white bottom with golden letters 702 series. The cigar has the right resistance when I touch it, the shape is pretty, so the rollers did a good job. The aroma is strong and is definitely a stable aroma, hay, manure, urine, straw, live stock. It sounds disgusting but in a cigar its exactly what you expect to smell.


I decapped the cigar with a Xikar guillotine cutter from the Procigar gift box from a few years back. The cold draw is good, quite spicy. The first puff is coffee and a little chocolate. The chocolate disappears immediately and is replaced by a peanut flavor, still with the coffee. After half an inch i mainly taste a salty peanut flavor. Halfway the peanuts turns earthy and peppery. The final third starts salty again.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn needed a touch up twice to correct. The ash is a little frayed yet firm. I would call this cigar medium at most, both in flavor and body. The smoke time is and hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not for my palate, technically a very good cigar though.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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