Dominican cigars

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
number89

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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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
number91

Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, El Criollito, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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
number91

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
number89

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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
number91

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

Aging Room Solera Sungrown Robusto

Aging Room is part of the portfolio of Boutique Blends, a company founded by Rafael Nodal. Well, not exactly, Boutique Blends is the new name of the old Habana Cuba Cigar Company, founded in 1996 during the cigar boom and famous for the (then flavored) Oliveros brand. Nodal, who had been selling the cigars in Miami through the internet decided to buy the company in 2002, and over the years released new cigars like Swag, Aging Room and King Habano decided to rename the company and steer away from flavored cigars in 2012, thats when the name Boutique Blends was born.

 


Aging Room is the biggest seller of the company, famous for the small batches but the solera cigars, made with the same solera method as used for liquor, is a regular production cigar that comes in four blends, a shade, a maduro, a sun grown and a corojo. I’m smoking the sun grown version. The cigar is a Dominican puro, with Dominican Habano as both filler and binder with a Dominican sun grown wrapper. I’m smoking the Fantastico, a 5 1/6×54 very blunt torpedo.

 


The wrapper, as far as I can see it, is quite dark, it has some oil but I can’t see much of it because the secondary ring is huge, add that to an average primary ring and two thirds of the cigar is covered. The rings look nice though, yellow with black letters, simple yet tasteful with the golden details. I like the unusual shape, its not really a torpedo because the head it too blunt, yet its not a parejo either because the head isn’t straight. The aroma is faint and floral.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good. The flavors I get in the cold draw is are sweet yet with a little lemon. After lighting it’s straight up coffee, a nice tasting coffee with a hint of pepper. After an inch I taste more lemon, some herbs and a little coffee. I get a bit of a bubbling sensation, like I’m drinking a carbonated soda. After a third I taste a stronger pepper with lemon but that carbonated sensation is gone. There’s also a herbal flavor, green herbs. The final third starts very peppery with a little vanilla.


The draw is great. The ash is dense, white and firm. The smoke could be thicker though. The burn is good. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and also medium full flavored with a decent balance. The smoke time is and hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe a single once in a while

Score: 89
number89

Categories: 89, Aging Room, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera Palma | Tags: , , , , ,

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

Back in early 2014 I visited Nicaragua and on my way back I spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. In Miami I visited Miami Cigar & Co to hang out with Barry Stein and after work we went to a cigar bar downtown. Barry introduced me to Juan Lopez from Gurkha Cigars, a brand that just came to the Dutch market. Since I was working in the industry Juan asked me what my expectations were for Gurkha on th Dutch market and I told him that the prices were insane, three times MSRP and I showed him the prices on a Dutch webshop (prices are fixed, set by the distributer). That was something that said distributer did with all of his brands, he marked it up crazy thinking the end consumer was stupid and would buy it anyway. I have to say, he learned from his mistakes and his prices are now up to par. But it shocked Juan, so he invited me to come over to the office the next day.


I called my employer what to do, I mean, I was there on vacation and I wasn’t about the steal a brand from a competitor, especially not a brand I’m not a big fan off, but we decided that I should hear them out and let them know that if they weren’t happy with their distributer we would be open for talks. The Gurkha offices don’t look anything special from outside, just a boring office building but once you enter, wow, especially their lounge with bar in colonial style blows your mind, and the hidden room with all the blends is a nice feature too. Juan hooked me up with a nice backpack, that I still use, a Gurkha knife that has fallen to pieces after I forgot to take it out of my pocket while doing laundry and a whole lot of cigars. I had smoked several Gurkha’s before and I was, and still am, reluctant to light them due to previous experiences. But heck, here we go, maybe it surprises me.


Now this cigar, 6×54, is made on the Dominican Republic by a factory called Tabacos Don Leoncio, a factory I had never heard of before. I don’t know what else they produce, so I have no idea. And that’s also the problem with Gurkha, they have so many different factories make their cigars that it’s hard to find DNA in their lines. The blend consists of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco, an Ecuadorean Habano binder and a Cubra Habano wrapper from Brazil. The wrapper had a mild reddish shine to it but looks a bit bumpy. The construction is good and it has, what it looks like, a quadruple cap but that could just be an error from the roller. The ring is typically Gurkha with a drawing of a Gurkha, a black banner with white letters saying the name of the company and a lot of gold, detailed decorations and of course “by K. Hansotia”. The aroma is mild to medium strong and has a mild acidic barnyard smell to it. So far its all good, lets hope the cigar tastes as good as it looks and especially the ring.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a little on the tight side. I taste a little floral raisin with a little bite. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. The first puff is cedar with some pepper but with a weird milky chocolate flavor. Soon it changes to rotting leaves with a little chocolate. The chocolate gets stronger after a third. Halfway I taste some honey, that cheap milky chocolate and some bitter spices and pepper. Near the two thirds mark I taste some cedar again.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a decent amount of it. The draw is good, not great but still good. The burn is a bit off. The ash is dark but firm. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! This cigar confirmed my previous experiences with Gurkha.

Score: 79

79

Categories: 79, Dominican cigars, Gurkha | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

La Sirena Merlion Robusto

In 2009 Arielle Ditkowich started La Sirena cigars with a cigar made at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua and three years later she released the second La Sirena line, the La Sirena Merlion made on the Dominican Republic at the La Aurora factory which isn’t a surprise because back then the cigars were distributed by Nestor Miranda’s Miami Cigar & Co, who’s the distributer of La Aurora in the USA, and has a few private labels made by My Father. So the connections are all there.


I met Arielle briefly when I visited Miami Cigar & Co a few years ago and she handed me this Merlion Robusto. I had smoked the My Father made La Sirena cigar but never this one and it’s time to do it now. The cigar is made with Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Brazilian binder and a corona from Ecuador wrapper.  La Sirena released two more lines, the Oceano and the Old School, the last one is made at NATSA where the Oceano is made at Quesada on the Dominican Republic. Or at least, were made by? Since 2014 there have been stories that La Sirena would move production to La Zona, but the La Sirena website still mentions NATSA, La Aurora and My Father.


The wrapper is a nice reddish brown, soft to the touch with a nice shine and a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, only shaped and huge with lots of shiny silver and just a little red and blue with a drawing of a mythical creature, a mermaid lion mix, a merlion. And since my wife a native Singaporean I have a connection with merlions, as that is the most famous statue of Singapore. The cigar has a mild manure aroma and the construction feels good, evenly packed , the shape is good and the cap is nice.


I used my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is a little loose, mild peppery and woody. After lighting I taste a strong coffee flavor with a little cedar. After a third I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with a nutty flavor and a slightly stronger pepper. The final third is spicier, with more pepper and a hint of chocolate.


The draw is good. The smoke is white with a grayish glow, it’s medium thick and full. The burn is razor sharp. The salt & pepper colored ash is firm. The cigar had a few years of age and it shows, as it’s very mellow and smooth. Medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? A single or maybe a fiver.

Score: 90

Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, La Sirena, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , , , ,

Don Ibarra Black Label

A few years ago I was visiting one of my accounts in my previous job as a sales representative and the owner of the shop, Marjolein Hartman from Hartman Cigars in Amsterdam (and now also co-owner of the La Casa del Habano in Amsterdam) said she received some samples from a cigar manufacturer looking to break into the Dutch market called Don Ibarra with a white ring. Now is it not allowed to sell straight to shop owners due to the Dutch tobacco law so I was surprised by this tactic. She said she smoked one and gave me two of the other cigars to try to see if the company I worked for would be interested. I never gotten around to smoke the samplers though and I knew that my then employer wouldn’t be interested anyway since he didn’t like unknown brands.

Years later I see the brand pop up again, this time distributed by a competitor of ours, so through the right channels but I forgot all about the samples I still had laying around in my 5300+ cigar stash. I only found out about them when I lost my job and inventoried my stash in my online account at stogierate.com.  A few weeks later I happen to be at the office of the said distributer for some consulting work and the owner gave me a Don Ibarra to smoke, a belicoso, and this is the review. As far as the blend I have to admit, I don’t know, all I know is that Don Ibarra is a Dominican made cigar. The belicoso is 5 inch long with a ring gauge of 50. I also have a robusto and a gordo and I will review them all in this one review.

Don Ibarra Black Label Belicoso


The wrapper looks good, medium to dark brown and a bit leathery with just one visible and not too thick vein. The part above the ring is a bit shiny, while the bottom part of the cigar is quite dull. The ring itself is made from shiny paper, the background is black with white gothic lettering around a white colored crest and thick golden outlines, all too shiny for my personal preference but the color combination is good. The construction feels good, no complaints there. The cigar has a strong and pleasant raw tobacco flavor with a tiny bit of ammonia. I cut the cigar to find an easy cold draw with a harsh raw tobacco flavor that fits the aroma.


I used a soft flame to light the cigar. The first hit of flavors is a little harsh, bitter coffee and some ashy flavor. The harshness gets a little less strong quickly and the coffee turns to more of a wooden flavor with a bite. Halfway the cigar turns herbal with a little harsh pepper and some cedar.


The draw is very good, a little loose from being perfect. The ash is white, full in volume and there is plenty of it. After lighting the cigar and a few puffs only one side kept lit so I had to relight the other part which caused a crooked burn. The ash is white, dense and firm. There is some evolution in the cigar and the flavor to body ratio of the medium bodied cigar is good. The smoke time is seventy five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No this is not a cigar for me.

Score: 86

86

Don Ibarra Black Label Gordo


The wrapper has a nice, even, dark brown color with little tooth and it is quite oily. It’s one of the most beautiful wrappers I have seen in a long time. The construction feels great, the cigar is beautifully finished, its just astonishing. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay, just like the robusto, but with some wood added to it. The ring is exactly the same as the other cigars in this line up.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste raw tobacco. I taste dirt and coffee after lighting. Not a lot changes in the first inch, but that’s to be expected from a thick ring gauge cigars. Halfway I taste wood and dirt with a little lime. Near the end some pepper shows up.


The draw is fine and the smoke is white, thick and a good volume. The white ash is firm and dense. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is about ninety minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not a bad tasting cigar, just too boring for me. It would have scored much higher with a better evolution.

Score: 85
number85

Don Ibarra Black Label Robusto


The wrapper is very oily, very shiny but has discolorations, like darker smears on a medium brown color and a few veins. The construction feels good and the head if flat as can be. The ring is identical as the belicoso. The cigar has a strong hay smell, like you’re standing in a hay barn.


I punched the cigar and the thickness of the wrapper stands out. The cold draw is great and I taste a little raisin. I taste soil, cedar, nutmeg and the flavors are a bit harsh and unrefined. After a third the cigar tastes like fresh wood with a faint milk chocolate. Halfway it’s that soil flavor again, sticky, thick and buttery. Near the end I taste a lot of pepper.


The ash is quite dark and frayed but still reasonable firm. The smoke is medium full in thickness and volume and the draw is great.  The burn needs help staying straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 86
number86

Categories: 85, 86, Dominican cigars, Don Ibarra | Tags: , , , , , , ,

La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull

The La Flor Dominicana Andalusian bull, what can I say? It was released in the summer of 2016 and hit the spot, or to make a reference to the name, it hit the bull’s eye, as it became #1 on the Cigar Aficionado top 25 of 2016. Now you want to know about the name? Why does a Dominican cigar a name that refers to the Spanish region Andalusia and a bull? Well, La Flor Dominicana owner Litto Gomez was born in Spain, so this is a link to the country of his birth. The writing on the ring is the handwriting of Pablo Picasso, who loved to paint bulls and the green in the ring is a reference to the green in the flag of Andalusia. Bull fighting is a big sport in Andalusia, hence the silhouet of the matador on the ring


The cigar, which has an odd shape, measures 6 1/2×64 and comes from an old mold that Litto Gomez found while on business in Belgium. The blend, which is a cooperation between Litto and his son Tony, consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper from corojo seed, wrapped around a binder and filler from the Dominican Republic which include Criollo ’98, Pelo d’Oro and a hybrid tobacco. Tony Gomez gave me this cigar at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund last september.


Now that I released the cigar from the cellophane I notice how thick it really is. I mean, I read it was a 64 ring gauge but it looked thinner wrapped in cellophane. The coffee colored, mild shiny, smooth wrapper looks delicious. The green ring with golden details, the black silhouette, the golden letters, its a piece of art and when you know something about the meaning of the ring, as I tried to explain in the first paragraph of the review, it’s even better. Cigar Rings did an awesome job printing this. The shape is quite unique, its slightly different than a regular pyramid, the blunt head is wrapped perfectly and the cigar feels evenly filled. The aroma is strong and reminds me of a spice cabinet in an Asian kitchen.


I cut the cigar. The raisin and herbal cold draw is great with a little pepper in my lips. After lighting I taste coffee with herbs and pepper. After a few puffs I taste herbal soil and half an inch later I also taste a mild metallic flavor. After an inch I taste coffee again, earthy and with a hint of chocolate and lime. Halfway the flavors have slowly changed to an earthy flavor with chocolate. Slowly the pepper returns, just like the lime.


The draw is great and the smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The light gray ash is dense and very firm. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full bodied and medium full flavored. The balance is spot on, and the smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Once they become available in my country I’ll grab a box.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , , ,

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