Nicaraguan cigars

Cubao Robusto

You know that the cigar you grabbed is old when the cellophane is almost golden because of the years of soaking up oils from the cigar. Add to it that the company behind the cigar was split up and both owners went their own way more than 5 years ago and you know you have a aged, maybe even vintage, cigar in your hands, and that’s what’s the case with this EO Brands Cubao Robusto.


Back in the day the cigar was made by Don Pepin Garcia and was from Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega, Ortega got the name in the split up and the cigar is now sold as Ortega Cubao with an almost identical ring, only change is the Espinosa & Ortega has changed to Ortega Cigar Co. The new cigars, I don’t know if the blend is still the same, is still made at My Father Cigars while Espinosa started his own factory, La Zona, and is one of the more reputable boutique brands.


As I said, the cigar comes in a yellow, almost golden, cellophane and when I release the cigar I see a reasonable dark, smooth and oily wrapper with a leathery feel to it. The construction feels a bit hard, but evenly hard with a beautiful triple cap and a flat head. The aroma is strong, wood and barnyard, that what comes to mind. The ring is simple, it reminds me a little of a Montecristo ring because of the brown ring with white letters but bigger. The ring says “Espinosa y Ortega” on top, “CUBAO” on the bottom and in the middle a white tobacco flower.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is very good that tastes like raisin and black pepper. After I lit the cigar I taste a nice coffee flavor with the perfect amount of bitterness and a faint hint of cocoa. After a few puffs it’s coffee with chocolate butter, almost Nutella like. The second third starts with a mild chocolate butter flavor, with green leaves or fresh wood, and a little bit of cinnamon on the back of my throat. The cinnamon slowly grows stronger and is not just on the back of my throat anymore. The final third starts nutty with some chocolate sweetness and pepper.


The smoke is very thick and there is plenty. The burn is a bit off though. The draw is close to perfect. The ash is white and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, especially the first third is great.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Cubao, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

San Lotano The Bull Robusto

I’ve always been a fan of A.J. Fernandez, from the day he emerged as master blender and manufacturer for a lot of the Maier & Dutch private labels, sold only through cigarsinternational and affiliated sites. I mean the Diesel Unholy Cocktail is one of my favorite cigars, I love most of the Man O Wars, Ave Maria’s etcetera and I’ve liked almost everything he made for himself too like the San Lotano lines, Last Call, New World and Enclave. But for some reason the San Lotano didn’t do much in The Netherlands. I guess that’s because we started with the weirdly shaped Oval line and that vitola didn’t went well with the Dutch public and tainted the San Lotano name for a lot of consumers.


San Lotano is an old Cuban brand that was owned by A.J. Fernandez grandfather but after the revolution th brand disappeared. Abdel brought it back with the San Lotano Oval, and later the round Maduro, Habano and Connecticut lines and a few years later this new The Bull, which is box pressed since that’s the best format for this specific blend according to Fernandez.  The cigar is made in Esteli with Nicaraguan filler and Binder and an Ecuadorean habano wrapper and comes in boxes of 10. I smoked the 5×54 robusto.


The cigar comes cedar wrapped and in cellophane. The cedar wrapping has the image of a bulls head printed on the wood. Once I remove that I see a dark and square pressed cigar, it looks like a mars bar, with one vein, which is also flattened. I see some mineral sparkles on the wrapper too and the cigar looks mighty tasty. And I immediately smell a quite strong aroma that is a mixture of a smoldering bonfire, cow dung and fresh pepper. The ring is of a thick paper, a black square with golden outlines, golden letters San Lotano and at the bottom a yellow and red banner with ‘by A.J. Fernandez’. Simple yet effective.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect, a little citrusy with some bitterness. I lit the cigar with my trusted vintage Ronson and taste espresso with some oak and a little sugar. A few puffs later I taste sweet and toasted oak flakes and some citrus. After an inch I taste black coffee, very dark chocolate and citrus. Halfway the cigar becomes less bitter, the bitterness was nice though, and a little more peppery. No more coffee but still oak with the bitterness of dark chocolate, a little sweetness, some pepper and citrus.


The white ash has some black smears and is firm. The smoke is thick and plentiful, just how I like it. The draw is flawless. The burn is good but not completely straight. This cigar is medium to full bodied, full flavored yet there isn’t a lot of evolution. The smoke time is little over and hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I stick to other AJ Fernandez cigars.

Score: 87

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Categories: 87, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Boxpressed Torpedo

A few years ago My Father released the My Father Le Bijou 1922 series, it was the follow up to the regular My Father line, the line Jaime & Janny Garcia created to honor their father Jose ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and he in his place honored his father with this Le Bijou 1922 blend. At that time I was working for the Dutch distributer of My Father Cigars and we added this line to our portfolio in several different vitolas, including the Box Pressed Torpedo.


Now for some reason the line didn’t sell, it is a great cigar but I guess time wasn’t right to compete with the Cubans in their price range I think because quality and flavor wise I would pick this Nicaraguan puro with the beautiful Pelo de Oro wrapper over any Cuban cigar any day but the sales numbers changed when Cigar Aficionado picked the Box Pressed Torpedo to be the #1 cigar of the year 2015. Since we stopped carrying the cigar we quickly had to order a few hundred boxes and even with a €13 price tag I wrote a record number just in pre-orders and the week they got in we received another shipment of highly awaited cigars too so it was a madhouse at the office, the boss was in Nicaragua on a business trip and I spend all week helping our warehouse staff to get all shipments out to break the company record with a landslide.


Once I release this 6 1/8 x 52 box pressed cigar from its cellophane packaging I smell a strong barnyard aroma. The construction feels good and the pointy tip of the cigar stands out, it looks more pointy than most torpedos I have seen. The dark wrapper looks leathery because of the tooth, the thin veins and the mild shine, you can see that the sun did its work. The rings are pretty, I like the fact that the bottom ring has a gap on top where the pointy bottom of the upper rings fits in. The bottom ring has a golden background with curly black letters saying Le Bijou 1922 while the bitter top ring has a pink white circle with the golden My Father logo, golden decorations and a pink banner underneath with golden letters. I don’t think these rings are printed by Vrijdag, their gold is a bit more shiny and of a higher quality but the rings are still beautiful.


I cut the cigar with a flat cut since punching is no option with a torpedo. The cold draw is great with a very peppery flavor, the famous Pepin twang from his old days is back. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste coffee and leather with a very tiny bit of chocolate. After a centimeter i taste a meaty charred wood, which is nicer than it sounds with some spice and pepper. Slowly the flavors change to wood with a bit of metal and pepper. After a third the pepper gets stronger with a little wood as a base flavor. Halfway I had to cut the cigar a little more, i had cut it really small and that caused some tar build up. After cutting a little more I taste nuts, lime, wood and pepper, a very Nicaraguan flavor profile. The pepper gets stronger towards the two thirds and become the dominant flavor by far but I also taste a little nuts.


The draw is great. The smoke is reasonable thick and medium plus in amount. The burn is straight. The ash is white, dense and firm. This well balanced full bodied cigar is full flavored with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have over half a box left. It’s a great cigar but not my number 1

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, My Father, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reel Grande Torpedo

Now this is a cigar that lives up to its name, it’s huge. And i’m not a fan of huge cigars. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind long cigars but I do mind thick cigars as 99 out of a 100 times it’s a waste of good tobacco and I never understood the appeal of the ‘big, bigger, biggest’ rat race that was going on in the land of cigars the last few years.


I don’t know much about this cigar, except that it was given to me a few years ago by a friend and that it’s made in Nicaragua by Plasencia. I don’t know if they released it themselves, if it was a private label and if so, for who it was made. I don’t know the filler, the binder nor the wrapper, all I know is that it was a budget cigar and that I had it in my humidor for a minimum of 8 years.


The Real Grande Torpedo is a 7×60 pyramid with a rough, thin, sun grown wrapper that feels dry. The shape is a little off, the cigar won’t stand up straight on a flat surface. The ring is decent though, burgundy with black, yellow and gold. It says it’s a limited edition.  The cigar has a mild smell that reminds me of a vanilla lemon cake.


Well, due to the vitola my only option is to cut. The cold draw is good, tasteless though. After lighting I taste a mild coffee, very mild. The flavor is unrefined and slightly harsh. After half an inch the cigar is harsh with a very musty cedar. Halfway I taste bitter wood with some floral sweetness.


The draw is fine. The dense ash it light gray. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is decent. This medium bodied, medium flavored cigar has hardly any evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. And why do cigar manufacturers release cigars like this with horrible tobacco? Where is your pride? What is your goal? Cigars like this will not sell and kill your reputation!

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Red balloons with ribbon – Number 80

 

Categories: 80, Nicaraguan cigars, Reel Grande, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Virtue Torpedo

I had this Manowar Virtue in my humidor for some time now but always left it alone because of the Ecuadorean Connecticut Shade wrapper, a type of wrapper I used to hate. Yes, you read it right, used to hate because since a few months I find myself enjoying the Connecticut shade wrapper more than I ever did, much to my own surprise so tonight I decided to finally grab this Manowar Virtue.


I do have some experience with the Manowar brand, made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua in a state of the art, huge & modern factory of which I had the pleasure to visit once. I smoked the regular Manowar, the Ruination and some of the side projects but as said before, never this Virtue which is supposed to be the smoothest of them all due to the wrapper.


I still don’t like the look of Connecticut Shade, it’s pale and looks like a cigar turned sick.  The construction of this 6 1/2×52 torpedo looks and feels good though although the cap isn’t placed completely straight. The ring is beautiful, the mask that’s on all Manowar cigars but this time in silver and white with dark blue letters Virtue. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of a barnyard and a hay stack.


I cut the cigar with my butterfly cutter and get a fabulous cold draw. I taste some mint with dry tobacco and pepper on my lips. After lighting the cigar with my soft flame I taste the classic mustiness from Connecticut Shade but with some sweetness and a bite. The sweetness is pure cane sugar and I also taste autumn leaves but with some harshness in the back of my throat. The harshness disappears soon and I taste nutmeg instead. After a third I taste some dry hay with white pepper and still a little sweetness, but no longer that strong cane sugar anymore but more like a mild stevia sweetness. Halfway I taste mild spicy and sweet wood and peanut shells, which is pretty nice. The sweetness turns sugary again and grows in strength


The draw is perfect, smooth and open. The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The salt and pepper colored ash looks flaky but is still quite firm. The burn is quite straight. LThe cigar is smooth indeed, mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, it’s not a bad cigar though and it is a confirmation that Connecticut Shade is growing on me but not enough to justify buying more.

Score: 89

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Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , ,

Reserva Miraflor Robusto

The last of the reviews for my friend Andrew for this year, unfortunately I must say, because I enjoyed each and every cigar he send me to be reviewed, even the Connecticut Shade ones. Not that I would buy all blends, since Connecticut Shade isn’t my wrapper of choice, but I enjoyed them. And the other blends, Goviado, Don Fernando and Reserva Miraflor are cigars I would buy boxes from if I had the cash and storage, and if I wasn’t moving to another part of the world soon, where importing tobacco is super expensive.


I reviewed the Reserva Miraflor before, but not this vitola from the new batch, the resurrected Reserva Miraflor as I call them. I told the story about the brand, how I got to know them, how I got to know Andrew, how the cigars vanished from the earth, how they suddenly returned again, so I won’t go into that again. If you missed the story, read the old Reserva Miraflor reviews and you’ll find out.


The wrapper is dark, it feels a bit dry and looks like thin leather with a few veins. The ring is glossy black with gold. The cigar feels heavy, dense and well packed. I can’t detect any soft spots or plugs. The shape and cap are nice. The cigar has a full barnyard and manure aroma.


I took the cigar to Thailand so no gabby cutter, just a simple free cutter that I dared to take on a ‘carry on only’ flight. The cold draw is a little tight and I taste some gingerbread in the cold draw. After lighting I taste a syrup sweetness, gingerbread and an earthy flavor. The well balanced flavors remain until after an inch a nice acidity joins the earthy, sweet gingerbread flavor. Then the flavors slowly change to a sticky mild milky chocolate with still some some spices, more like the Dutch speculaas cookies though. In the finale I taste toast, cinnamon and gingerbread again with dark chocolate bitterness and a hint of vanilla.


The draw is great, the smoke is light blue, medium thick and full. The dense ash is light colored and quite firm. The burn is razor sharp, especially considering that I’m smoking outside with a breeze that could potentially effect the burn. The cigar is medium full in both body and strength. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? With the discount on untoldcigar.com that I mentioned in earlier reviews it’s a no brainer, I have to have more.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars, Reserva Miraflor | Tags: , , , , , ,

Berger & Argenti Classico Robusto

Usually I end my reviews with ‘would I buy this cigar again?’ but I can start this review with the answer to that question and it is a wholehearted NO! with a capital to give the statement more power. But that has got nothing to do with the cigar but all with the Argenti brothers that scammed my previous employer out of a lot of money over my back. I smoked some B&A cigars, liked them especially the Entubar quad maduro and introduced them to my then employer, a major cigar distributer in The Netherlands. He placed an order, paid and never got what he ordered, only a partial delivery of the wrong cigars in poor shape with cracked wrappers. And no quad maduro but Connecticut Shades instead. Then they filed for bankruptcy. So I would never buy any cigar related to those Argenti scumbags again, ever!


About the cigar, this is a 5×50 Nicaraguan made robusto with a Connecticut wrapper from Ecuador. The tobacco plant is stalk cut though, just like the Liga Privada wrappers, instead of individually picked and it is said that the stalk cut, where the whole plant is cut and hung to dry, results in a better balance between spice and sweetness. The binder is a Nicaraguan corojo over Nicaraguan habano filler.


I take the cigar out of the cellophane and notice the dark shade of the Connecticut wrapper, this isn’t shade grown or the stalk cut method makes the leaf darker, one of the two. The wrapper feels a bit leather like and has thin veins. The construction feels good, but the cap could look a little better. The ring is simple, brown with a copper line and white letters saying the name of the brand. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of a horse stable.


I used my Xikar butterfly cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine, quite spicy too. After lighting the cigar I taste a mild coffee flavor that slowly changes to cedar, all smooth. After a third I taste some cane sugar too. Pepper shows up at the final third and slowly grows in strength.


The ash is light colored and dense. The draw is good, just like the burn. The smoke is medium thick and full at most. This cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! Not a bad flavored but boring.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Berger & Argenti, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , ,

Paradiso Francisco

I love the classic sizes with a lancero as my favorite vitola, closely followed by the lonsdale, the corona and if I really want to treat myself, the A size cigars. Unfortunately, the last decade we have seen cigars getting fatter and fatter, where a robusto was considered to be a big cigar, nowadays with the gordo, extra gordo, extra extra gordo or how manufacurers call these donkey dick sized vitolas a robusto is almost considered a skinny stick. And what is most surprising, most industry people don’t like big ring gauged cigars at all. And I agree with them, I prefer skinny cigars too as stated above. The wrapper to filler ratio is much better and since the wrapper gives the most flavor a skinny cigar has so much more dynamic, nuances, evolution and flavors compared to the big ring cigars that I really don’t get the big ring hype.


But as always, the market dictates and the market demands big ring gauges, the smaller rings don’t sell so we don’t see that many lanceros, lonsdales or coronas, especially on my side of the ocean. Heck, when I worked for Longfiller Company, the only way to persuade my boss to order lanceros was if I pre-sold an x amount of boxes, he would order that exact amount of boxes and that’s it while he would just order loads and loads of robusto and gordo sized cigars. The only corona we had in our portfolio was the Paradiso Francisco, known as the San Cristobal Francisco in the United States, a cigar made by My Father for Ashton Cigars and when my boss told me he was discontinuing this vitola I quickly bought a few because I like the cigar and the vitola.


The wrapper is dark with two thin veins running over the back and a rough leathery feel to it. The ring is awesome, a bright red parrot with green and blue wings on a light colored ring with lots of gold, and the gold really pops, high quality printing. The construction feels good, but then again, it is a My Father Cigars made cigar and that counts for quality. The cigar has an aroma that reminds me of when I’m boiling cauliflower, and it’s medium strong.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw is a little tight and I taste some raisin, mint and pepper. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste coffee, not too bitter, and a little sweetness with some chocolate. After an inch I taste a pleasant cedar with some nutmeg. The flavors are very subtle yet medium full in strength. Halfway I taste vanilla, honey and some jalapeño pepper. The vanilla is the main flavor and there is a little mint in the aftertaste. The jalapeño changes to black pepper. Near the end the pepper gets really strong.


The ash is almost white and pretty firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The draw is great, better than in the cold draw. The smoke is medium to full thick and enough in volume. This cigar is medium bodied yet medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I still have a good stash, but once they are gone I will need more.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Paradiso - San Cristobal | Tags: , , , , ,

A.J. Fernandez Last Call

If you were invited to wacht a NFL game at the home of A.J. Fernandez you got offered a small robusto, 4 1/2×48, with a closed foot called the Last Call, which refers to the sport games it was made for. Usually the guests would get it in the final quarter of the game. The cigars are made with Nicaraguan filler and binder and the tobacco is grown by Fernandez himself while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Rosado Habano and the foot is closed.


I would love to write a story on how I was watching a game at Abdel’s house and got this cigar but no. I have been to Esteli twice, I have been to the factory and I have met Abdel on several occasions but we are not so close that he invites me over to watch a game of a sport that I don’t care about, don’t know the rules about and wouldn’t be able to name 5 teams if my life depended on it. I’m European, I watch football where the ball is actually round and played with the feet instead of the hands, and without 1980’s shoulder pats. And even then, I only watch games of my favorite team Ajax Amsterdam and not any other games.


The silky wrapper has a but of a dull appearance but I also see some minerals. During transport the wrapper got a little bit banged up but thats my fault so that won’t be factored in with the score. The wrapper is very smooth. The construction feels good with a beautiful triple cap. the wing is simple, round beige with red outlines and red letters Last Call. The font reminds me of baseball for some reason. The ring also says ‘premium aged tobacco by a.j. fernandez’. The cigar has a mild manure aroma.


I cut the cigar with a guillotine cutter and I expected a little tight draw because of the closed foot but it was surprisingly easy. I taste some pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame, my trusted vintage Ronson. I taste honey, coffee, leather and pepper direct after lighting the cigar. After a centimeter I taste a caramel sweetness with autumn leafs and a nice spice mix. After a third I taste a slowly growing pepper too. Halfway I taste a nice mix of spices with just the right amount of pepper. After two thirds I taste nuts with a little cumin.


The draw is great, but the smoke is thin and low in volume. The light colored as is dense and firm. The burn is slow and pretty straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, well balanced and with a nice evolution. The smoke time is five minutes short of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes this is a nice medium bodied cigar and with a better smoke it would have scored a point higher.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Last Call, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , ,

My Father 9/11 Nicaragua Habano Oscuro Robusto

Last year, also on September 11, I published a review of the My Father 9/11 Ecuador Rosado Habano robusto that came from on of the 343 boxes that My Father Cigars and Casa de Montecristo released in 2011, 10 years after the terrorist attacks by Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden. Since the box carried 9 of the Ecuador Rosado Habano and 11 Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro cigars I thought it was a good idea to review the Nicaraguan version this year to commemorate all that lost their lives at the attack on the Twin Towers.


Now that I’m grabbing this cigar I can’t believe that it’s already 17 years ago since those attacks and the world hasn’t been the same. It caused a war on Iraq on false information, it caused a war and man hunt in Afghanistan to get the mastermind behind the attacks. The war in Iraq was the cause for the rise of ISIS and destabilized the whole middle east, leading to terrorist attacks all over Europe, Asia, Africa and North America leading to millions of death, millions of refugees, PTSD for both veterans and civilians living in the war zones that will haunt society for decades to come. I’m usually a pretty upbeat and positive person yet when I look at the state the world is in, with populism on the rise, racism back out in the open, a lack of diplomacy, the garbage that is spilled on social media where people are calling each other libtards, snowflakes, racists etcetera for having a different political view instead of respecting each others perspective, it makes me sad. And I think a lot of it is the aftermath of this world changing terrorist attack.


The cigar comes naked, that means no ring, no marking whatsoever. The wrapper is dark and smooth, oily and has a velvet feel to it. The cigar feels good, the head is nice and round, the triple cap is nice. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of a barnyard, some manure, some hay, some grass, some straw, some animals. Nice.


I decapped the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw is great and quite peppery. Right after lighting I taste toast with cinnamon and a little cedar. After a third it’s more toast, nutmeg, a hint of dark chocolate and some oregano. Halfway I taste wood, oak, with pepper. The pepper is getting stronger and stronger.


The draw is fantastic and so is the smoke. Thick, full and voluminous. The ash is white, with some black spots, dense and firm. This cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible

Score: 95
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Categories: 95, My Father, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

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