Dominican cigars

La Palina Lancero

Years ago, when I was still working for the biggest independent cigar distributer in The Netherlands a few of the brands we distributed asked us to look into La Palina, so we reached out to Courtney Smith who was their VP of Sales back then but has moved on to Cornelius & Anthony since then (a good move in my opinion, both for Courtney and for Cornelius & Anthony). To cut a long story short, we decided to give two La Palina lines a try run.


Courtney came to Intertabac and flew into Amsterdam a few days early. I picked her up and she gave my employer a box of the La Palina Classic Lancero to sample, yet my employer hates lanceros and is the only cigar smoker at the office so when I saw that box at the office a few months later, with just one cigar missing, I asked if I could have it. These cigars are made at PDR on the Dominican Republic with a Brazilian wrapper, a binder from Ecuador and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.


The wrapper is smooth, very smooth for a Brazilian wrapper which usually are darker and rougher than this one. Its shiny because of the oils in the leaf yet the cigar feels a bit like sandpaper. The ring is simple, off white with black letters with golden outlines, just saying La Palina classic in an old fashioned font. The cigar feels well constructed, no hard of soft spots, and the cap is decent. The cigar has a nice stable aroma, manure, some acidity and hay.


I used a flat cut to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great, cedar and spicy. After lighting I taste sweet and savory spices. After half an inch I taste cedar with pepper. Then I suddenly taste a nasty bitter flavor that I recognize, the cigar is bleeding and that after just an inch. An easy fix, just cut off some of the head, but still. After I fixed the cigar I taste some sweetness, cedar and some hay. Halfway I taste a sharp cedar, just cedar. The last inch gets a little stronger but still the same flavor.


The draw is good. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The smoke is quite thick and white. The burn is quite straight. There isn’t much evolution, which is rare for a lancero. This cigar is medium bodied at most, mild to medium flavored. And the smoke time is less than ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Dominican cigars, La Palina, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

E.P. Carrillo La Historia Regalias d’Celia

When the news broke that legendary cigar maker Ernesto Perez Carrillo ended his 10 years contract at Swedish Match, a contract he signed as part of the sale of his La Gloria Cuban and El Credito brands to General Cigars, to start his own company again the cigar geek in me was enthousiastic, I mean, a legend starting up a new company? That could only be good news right? But then I smoked the so highly anticipated Inaugural and for me that was a let down. Not that it was a bad cigar, but it just didn’t do anything for me. And I smoked more cigars that were just middle of the road to me, not bad but not my kind of cigar.


A few years later my then employer, the biggest independent cigar importer & distributer of The Netherlands, said he had reached an agreement with Ernesto do distribute his cigars in the country so we carried a few lines and especially the inch sold, but that didn’t make up for the stupid international sales president Carrillo had at the time that completely destroyed the relationship and resulted into my boss dropping Carrillo. So the brand fell a bit of my radar, I noticed that the La Historia got a lot of praise but that’s it. But smoking the Viking earlier this year made me want to try this cigar and the German distributor helped me out.


So I got this 5⅞x58 cigar made from Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, Sumatra from Ecuador as a binder with a Mexican San Andres wrapper. The cigar looks huge, even bigger than it is because its box pressed with a dark, little marbles wrapper that looks intimidating. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of manure and urine drenched staw. The construction feels good but the wrapper had a weird wrinkle at the head of the cigar. The rings are beautiful though, first there is a bright blue cloth ring to protect the foot of the cigar, then a small red ring with decorative golden linings and golden letters Perez Carrillo and to top it off there is a big ring with the same golden lining, a red square on a golden throne that says Perez Carrillo la historia and the blue returns as the sky. Beautiful design and great print quality.


Due to the size I had to cut the cigar with my guillotine cutter. The cold draw is great and I taste a little toast with some pepper on my lips. As usual I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste spicy coffee with leather. After a centimeter I taste cocoa powder with spices. After a third it’s more of nutmeg with toast and pepper. Slowly the pepper picks up and after two thirds i taste wood with a little lime and pepper. Near the end I taste some nuts too.


The smoke is medium plus thick and medium in volume. The draw is fantastic. The burn is a little off. The gray ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not this vitola but I’d like to try a smaller ring version.

Score: 87
87

Categories: 87, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Leon Jimenes Don Fernando

My nickname on several different cigar forums is Don Fernando, my actual name is Ferdinand so it seemed like a good nickname back then.  And when the opportunity rose to buy a couple of the illusive Leon Jimenes Don Fernando cigars I had to bite, I mean, with that name I just had to have them. It was the personal blend and vitola for Don Fernando León Asensio, someone we all know from La Aurora and who passed away in the spring of 2009.


The size of this corona is 5 5/8×42 and that makes it a #4 if you compare it to Cuban sizes, or you can just say corona. The cigar is made with Dominican tobacco and a Cameroon wrapper, which sets it apart from the regular Leon Jimenes Corona which has a Connecticut Shade wrapper.


The wrapper looks very smooth for a Cameroon wrapper and is clearly darker than Connecticut Shade so it is a Don Fernando for sure. There is only one thin, flattened vein on the back. The ring is the same as all other Leon Jimenes, red with gold but for some reason the print quality looks better than any of the other Leon Jimenes cigars I have seen and smoked. The construction feels great, the cap is good just like the shape of the cigar. The cigar has a mild aroma which smells very floral with lavender and other flowers.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is fine, I taste floral flavors. A classic vitola deserves a classic light so I used a match. I taste coffee with honey sweetness. The classic Cameroon spice and herbs shine in a cigar with this small ring gauge. After a third the cigar gets a little strength, I taste a little nut, herbs and pepper. Halfway the cigar gets very floral but with a little pepper.


The draw is awesome, the smoke is thick but not crazy thick and a good amount of it. The dense ash is white. The burn is flawless. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored but smooth, well balanced. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I can find the real deal, yeah.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, Leon Jimenes, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , ,

Swag Elite

Swag is one of the brands that falls under the Boutique Blends company of Rafael Nodal, just like the better known Aging Room. And I knew nothing about this cigar when I bought it on a trip to Florida a few years ago, I just saw a lancero that I didn’t know and never smoked so I bought it. The price tag is still attached, I paid $ 6.46 for it, and today I’m smoking it as part of my series of lancero reviews.


A google search taught me that the cigars are made at Tabacalera Palma, which isn’t a surprise considering its part of Boutique Blends and it’s a Dominican puro. The 7×40 lancero is completely made with Dominican Habano Ligero tobacco, from filler to binder and wrapper.


The cigar is almost completely covered with wax paper with the Swag logo, a nice way of wrapping the cigar. The ring is burgundy with white letters and several golden, black and red lines on top and bottom. The foot ring has the same color scheme but says Puro Domincana. The shape is beautiful, well finished head and the construction feels good too. The wrapper is mild oily, has an espresso color but with a reddish glow and it looks smooth. The aroma is mild and woody.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good. I taste a peppery flavor. After lighting it with my vintage Ronson. I taste a cinnamon and other spices flavor with some sweetness and pepper. The cigar gets peppery, with some nutty wood and a maple syrup sweetness. After a third I taste sharp wood with pepper. The cigar is a bit harsh and a both ashy halfway because the cigar starts to bleed tar. I cut a piece off to rescue the cigar. The ash flavor is gone but the cigar continues to be peppery and slightly harsh.


The draw is great, the cigar is well made. The smoke is good in volume but could be a bit thicker. The light gray ash is dense. It isn’t firm though. The burn is great. I would call this cigar full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This isn’t my cigar.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Dominican cigars, Swag, Tabacalera Palma | Tags: , , , ,

Winston Churchill by Davidoff The Artist

Winston Churchill is one of the most iconic and well known cigar smokers in history and for years Davidoff had a line of cigars in his name. But in 2014 they reblended and revamped the line with a new blend, consisting from Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, a Mexican binder and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and new rings and logos.


Someone gave me this 4 1/2×41 Petit Corona with the name The Artist. It is named The Artist because Winston Churchill was a passionate amateur painter who loved to paint rich landscapes and some of his paintings are in world renowned museums all over the world, although I guess that if he wasn’t such an iconic statesman and wouldn’t have won the second world war his paintings would not have been on display. But I’m not an expert on art, so I might be completely wrong here.


The chestnut brown wrapper is flawless, smooth and mild oily. The ring is fantastic, glossy white with a popping gold outline, a golden silhouette of Winston Churchill and the Davidoff name. The construction feels good, the cap is nice, the shape of the cigar is even and the aroma is nice, like walking into a stable with just born lambs and mother sheep.


After I cut the cigar I taste just dry tobacco with a great cold draw. After lighting I taste a sweet coffee with a splash of lime. After a third I taste nuts with a little lime. The final third is where the cigar turns to bitterness.


The draw is a bit loose but the smoke is top notch. The ash is light with darker smears. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the cold winter months

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic

I have met Ernesto Perez Carrillo a few times, both at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund and once in Nicaragua where we ran into him at the A.J. Fernandez factory while interviewing A.J. and taking pictures for the Cigaragua book. Ernesto came walking in with Gilberto Oliva, so there was a lot of tobacco knowledge on a few square meters there. And last september at the Intertabac trade show I walked passed the booth, Ernesto called me in and said “I would like you to try this cigar” and handed me this Encore.


Now when I see that the encore is a Nicaraguan puro, even though its made on the Dominican Republic, I think “maybe I ran into him when he was buying tobacco for this line”, I mean, he was with Gilberto Oliva, Angel from ASP and came to visit A.J. Fernandez and those are three tobacco growers. But I could be wrong. The cigar comes in four vitolas and I smoked the 5 3/8×52 Majestic.


The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane and has a cloth band to protect the foot of the cigar. When I release the cigar from the cellophane I notice that it’s slightly box pressed. The cigar has a double ring, a secondary ring in brown with copper colored, dry detailed outlines and white letters saying Perez Carrillo and then a main ring in the same brown with the same copper detailed outlines, different shades of brown and white to detail the ring and the Perez Carrillo logo in the center with encore in white letters. The ring fits perfect with the dark, little rough but oily wapper. The cigar feels evenly packed, the shape is good, the cap is good. And the aroma is great, freshly baked whole grain bread and bell peppers, with a little manure.


I cut the cigar for a very loose cold draw, which tastes mild spicy. After lighting I taste a dry and strong espresso, bitter in a positive way. After a third I taste cedar with a faint cocoa, slightly bitter and harsh. The flavors don’t change after, except for a little pepper at the end.


The smoke is amazing, thick, white, full and a lot of it. The draw is a little loose. The ash is light gray with black stripes. The burn is straight. The evolution lacks a little. I would call it medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like to try one with a draw that is less loose, I expect that the flavors are more refined then due to a lower combustion temperature and it will also lead to a longer smoke duration.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , ,

El Criollito Half Corona

Abe Flores created this blend as a European release, and if the FDA gets their way and their proposed policy on cigars doesn’t get overthrown by the senate and the house of representatives that will be something we will see a lot more, European releases. Even though I’m European and think it’s cool that there are some cigars that we can get that aren’t available in the USA instead of the other way around, I would hate to see that happen.


The El Criollito line is made out of a lot of Criollo tobacco, hence the name. Criollo 98 from the Dominican and Nicaragua as a filler, a Mexican San Andres binder and an Ecuadorian rosado criollo wrapper make this four vitola line. I smoked the 3 1/2 x50 Half Corona, a gift from Abe himself, but there is also a 5×54 Robusto, a 6×60 Double Magnum and a 7×70 Sentenial.


The smooth and oily wrapper has a mild reddish glow over the coffee colored wrapper. The cigar looks good and feels good although the triple cap isn’t glued straight. The ring is simple and small, brown with golden outlines and white letters El Criollito A. Flores. The aroma is very strong, it reminds me of horses that just came back from a run.


I cut the cigar the cleanest cut ever, literally just taking the cap off. I taste a slight salty and spicy cold draw, which has the perfect amount of resistance. I taste coffee with salt. The flavors are bolder and stronger than expected. After a few puffs I also taste nutmeg and cinnamon. The coffee disappears and I now taste a mild salt with wood. The flavor gets a little citrus halfway, with the wood and salt. The final third is stronger, with a lot of added pepper.


The draw is great. The light gray smoke could be a little thicker and more voluminous. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, El Criollito, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro Toro

Last month I wrote a review on the Quesada Reserva Privada Toro, made with a vintage Dominican Criollo binder. A year after the original release in 2015 the Quesada family released another blend using that same vintage leaf and the same Reserva Privada name, the Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.


Now I am a fan of Connecticut broadleaf, one of my favorite cigars is the La Casita Criolla from Pete Johnson, a cigar completely made with Connecticut broadleaf and I like the La Duena by My Father a lot too so I have high expectations from this cigar. I mean, vintage binder, one of my favorite wrappers and all from a great company. I got this cigar at the last intertabac trade show in a sampler from Raquel Quesada.


The ring is the same as the regular Reserva Privada, black, stylish and gorgeous. The wrapper is very oily, dark and smooth. Halfwheel wrote that the cigar won’t win any beauty contests but this wrapper would certainly catch my eye in a humidor and it screams “i’m delicious, smoke me”. The cigar has a nicely, almost perfect, rounded head, a beautiful triple cap and it feels evenly packed. I live in an area with quite a few cocoa processing plants and when I sniff the cigar that’s what I smell, raw cocoa.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, woody and earthy with a mild pepper. After lighting I taste coffee. Soon after I taste wood, a mild pepper, a little lemon and all in a buttery, creamy way. The pepper grows and becomes the dominant flavor while the creaminess disappears. After a third I taste pepper with salt and some wood. Halfway I taste charred dark wood with pepper. The final third is charred wood, pepper and floral flavors. The floral flavor tones down, the pepper gets stronger near the end.


The draw is great while the smoke is very pretty and white, with a great thickness. The light colored ash is firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Quesada Reserva Privada Toro

The Quesada family has honored the previous generations before, in the Tribute series, but this cigar is a tribute too, first and foremost to the father of Manuel Quesada who planted and picked the tobacco for this cigar back in 1997, a year before he passed away, but also a tribute to the new generation in the shape of modern boxes and a hologram logo. And the new generation, in the shape of Raquel Quesada gave me this cigar at the Intertabac trade show.


So the filler is a Dominican San Vincente leaf with Pennsylvania broadleaf ligero, the binder is that vintage, 18 year old, Dominican Criollo with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper in a 5 5/8×54 size. All the cigars are aged an additional year after rolling before they are shipped to the shops. And I wonder, what happens when the vintage binder is gone? Is there a new stash of a 1998 harvest to continue the blend or will the cigar just disappear?


The mocha colored wrapper looks beautiful yet brittle, with a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, simple, stylish, modern with a black back drop, the Quesada Q logo in golden hologram style and glossy silver ‘Quesada’ and ‘reserva’ prints on the sides. Very tasteful, very well printed. The cigar feels well constructed, evenly packed and the triple cap is flawless. The medium strong aroma is typical manure, Cubanesque manure.


I cut the cigar with my butterfly cutter. The cold draw is perfect and I taste a mild sweet floral yet herbal flavor. After lighting I taste a sweet yet mild musty and floral coffee. After an inch I taste sweetness, Connecticut mustiness and cedar. The sweetness fades, a white pepper shows up with a mild floral sweetness. The cigar gets stronger.


The draw is great. The white ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That darn Connecticut Shade, still not my wrapper.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Viking Viking Churchill

Last year I reviewed the Viking Robusto, a Dominican made cigar for a Norwegian cigar aficionado and I loved it, it scored high with a 93 final score. It was a huge step up from the cigars Hawk used to have made by Cabreras, those never scored so high and it was also the best rated E.P. Carrillo cigar for me up to that date, so a double win.


Last september I talked with Hawk and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few more cigars to review including this 7×54 Churchill. The Viking Viking blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper from the USA, a Sumatra binder from Ecuador and aged Habano filler from three different Nicaraguan regions, Condega, Esteli and Jalapa.


The dark wrapper is rough and looks intimidating, like a real viking should and the tin cigar ring with the viking logo enhances that intimidating look, I love it. The construction feels good, the cigar is well shaped. The aroma is deep and dark, fitting with the look, like old manure on an open piece deep inside a dark and scary forest.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste some herbs and sultanas. After lighting I taste sugar with some coffee. After an inch I taste a sweet floral flavor with herbs and wood. After a third I taste wood, herbs, vanilla and chocolate. There is a mild pepper in the aftertaste. The final third starts dry, with dry wood, a little hint of vanilla and pepper. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end I taste pepper, some mild floral flavors and meaty wood.


The draw is great. The white ash is white and dense. The light and thin smoke is low in volume. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , ,

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