Nicaraguan cigars

Santiago Habano Toro

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 Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

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

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

Santiago Saturday – Santiago Habano Toro

Last september at Intertabac I met the guys from Santiago de los Caballeros cigars, a private label cigar company that have their cigars made in Esteli by the Plasencia Family. They gave me a few samplers and last January I reviewed the Santiago Maduro Robusto, last month I reviewed the Santiago Connecticut Robusto and today I’m reviewing the Habano blend in a 6×50 Toro shape. The cigar has a blend of Nicaraguan and Mexican tobacco as filler, a Nicaraguan binder and a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper. I don’t know what the MSRP for these cigars are or where they are for sale. To be honest, before I met the guys I never heard of the brand.


Now the Maduro was a pretty decent cigar, that raised my expectations for this habano. The wrapper is beautiful, very dark, mild shiny with a dry appearance. I see a few veins. The ring is beautiful, its a dark green, close to grey, with golden linings and white letters Santiago de Los Caballeros Nicaragua but what makes the band stand out is the shiny, black and slightly raised cross. The bottom ring is the same greenish gray with golden lining and blue letters Habano, something I would have done in white to make it matching. The construction feels evenly, but a little soft. The triple cap is gorgeous. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of stray on the barn floor right before it’s cleaned out after being peed on by cows all night. Now that sounds disgusting, but cigar smokers know what I mean and that its not a bad thing.


I decided to punch the cigar and I’m glad I did as the cold draw is loose, cutting it might have made the draw even easier. I taste pepper and some cocoa. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and the start is bitter. After half a centimeter the bitterness tones down to a tolerable level and I also taste some sweetness and coffee. After an inch it’s still coffee but with cocoa. Halfway the flavor reminds me of roasted nuts. The flavor remains but after two thirds it get company from pepper, mainly on my lips. With an inch and a half to go I clearly notice the turning point and I toss the cigar.


The smoke is thick, white and luscious. The draw is a little too loose for my preference. The ash is silver gray and you clearly see the layers. The ash is frayed but firm. The burn is straight. This medium plus bodied cigar is medium bodied and the smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Depends on the price, it’s a good cigar but there are many good cigars comparable to this one so the price would be a factor.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Nicaraguan cigars, Santiago | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva

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

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

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

Tatuaje Thursday – Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva

In 2003 Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars released a cigar with the name Cojonu, which is slang for ‘balsy’ according to my friends of Halfwheel, and that fits the whole Tatuaje brand if you ask me. Now because the cigar had a year on it you could suspect it to be a yearly limited but no, Johnson decided to make a regular release with a new edition every three years, with the Tatuaje Cojonu 2006, Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 and also a regular production under the name Gran Cojonu in big ring gauge and no bands. Now for the 2012 Cojonu Johnson did something special, he not only released the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 with the regular Ecuadorean Habano wrapper but also a box in the shape of a book with Cojonu 2012 with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and a Sumatra wrapper aka Capa Especial. And its all in the detail, a book contains 24 cigars, 12 Tatuaje Cojonu Broadleaf and 12 Tatuaje Cojonu Capa Especial, to keep the ’12’ theme going, even the cover of the book says it “The Cojonu two 12’s”.


Sadly there was no Tatuaje Cojonu 2015 edition, next time I see Pete I’ll ask why and if there will be a 2018 Cojonu. In retrospect, of all the times Pete and I talked we never spoke about any of the Cojonu cigars as I can recall. And I never heard about them online either, so that might be the answer to the question why there wasn’t a Cojonu 2015. Back to the cigar, which is also called Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva. It has a 6 1/2×50 size and is made with Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The wrapper is dark, it feels like velvet and has a little spark of minerals, the veins are hardly noticeable and it gives the cigar a great appearance. The construction, which is slightly box pressed, feels good and the triple cap is very well made. The rings, well, it has the standard brown Tatuaje ring with the flor de lis and white, swirly lettering on thin paper and even though its not fancy, I like the simplicity of the Tatuaje rings. Unfortunately it doesn’t match with the second band which is shiny and black with golden outlines and a straight font saying Cojonu 2012. I wouldn’t have used shiny paper, golden print and a straight font because it doesn’t match the simple style of the regular ring. Now the aroma of the cigar isn’t very strong and much to my surprise a little minty.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is fine and spicy, woody and peppery. Once I lit the cigar with my soft flame lighter I taste coffee with pepper. After three puffs I also taste some sweetness. A centimeter later I taste toasty wood with spices, some pepper and a little bit of sugar. Slowly the sweetness disappears, it’s all toasted wood with pepper and herbs.


After a third I still taste wood, with a toasty touch but also some chocolate. There are also some spices and herbs. Halfway it’s a little burned toast but not in an unpleasant way with pepper, citrus and a little bit of mint. There is still a little hint of cocoa, mildly sweet. Slowly the pepper and spices grow on the tip of my tongue.


The smoke is quite thick and a nice amount of it. The draw is good, not perfect but very good. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is straight and slow. This is definitely a balsy blend, full bodied and full flavored. There is enough evolution and the balance is good. The smoke time is 2 hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I still have a few and I enjoy other Tatuaje cigars better, but it’s still a very good cigar.

Score: 90

90

 

Categories: 90, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Tatuaje | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murcielago Churchill

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

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

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

Murcielago Monday – Murcielago Churchill

I guess I got this cigar back in 2012 when I met Eric Espinosa at a small party at the Miami cigar lounge El Clique where I was hanging with Frank Herrera, Jonathan Drew, Jorge from Havana Sabor and some friends and since then the brand has disappeared and reappeared but with a rebranded logo and a little changed blend because Espinosa and his business parter Eddie Ortega parted ways after Rocky Patel discontinued distributing EO brands, or maybe Rocky Patel stopped because Eddie and Eric wanted to part ways, I don’t know all I know is that Espinosa now has a great factory, La Zona, in Esteli and gained control over the Murcielago brand.


But since this is the old blend I figure this one comes from the My Father factory where EO brands had their cigars made before La Zona started, but that’s no disqualification because My Father Cigars is one of the best factories in my opinion, yet La Zona is great too, uncomparable by size and location, My Father Cigars is impressive and the flow within the buildings is so well thought off yet La Zona has the charme of an old building, the coziness of a small factory and the best deck in the whole of Esteli to enjoy a cigar although the deck at Drew Estate isn’t too shabby either.


The 7 1/8×48 long cigar looks beautiful yet the Mexican binder in rough and that creates a very uneven surface underneath the oily and dark Mexican San Andres wrapper, that is pretty though without any real veins, just a few baby ones. The construction feels good and the cap is placed perfectly. My initial thought when I saw the ring was ‘Bacardi” because of the red background and the black bat. On top is says espinosa y ortega and murcielago at the bottom surrounded by a golden ring. Simple yet functional, but that Bacardi feel …. i’m not a Bacardi fan, for years I said I didn’t like rum because the only rum I tried was Bacardi and I missed out on some great stuff because of that. The cigar has a medium strong aroma that is a mix between manure and smokey wood, almost charred.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is great with a peppery, mild acidic, raisin flavor. Right after lighting I taste coffee with some chocolate. The chocolate is growing a little stronger with pepper and some wood. Suddenly I taste a strong barbecue wood flavor with a hint of chocolate and a strong peppery aftertaste. After a third I also taste some mint with the pepper. Halfway the main flavor is wood with a faint chocolate flavor, with pepper and a fresh aftertaste. The pepper is slowly taking over. The last part starts with a peppery wood with still a faint chocolate. The pepper grows stronger and stronger and it might be the most peppery finish I ever tasted in a cigar.


The draw is great, the smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The light colored ash is dense and quite firm. The burn is great, straight as an arrow. This is a full bodied and full flavored cigar, Nicaragua at its strongest but well balanced. The smoke time is little over two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to smoke the new blend, but would love some of these old ones too.

Score: 92
number92

 

 

Categories: 92, Murcielago, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nicoya Fuerte Robusto

In January I wrote a review about a new brand, Nicoya, and I smoked the Nicoya Medio, the milder of the two lines that the Australian entrepreneur and cigar aficionado Gerard Hayes has made by A.J. Fernandez in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. As for the name, as I wrote back in January, according to Hayes the name is chosen to praise the Nicaraguans yet there are others that claim that Nicaraguans aren’t called Nicoya but it’s a piece of Costa Rica that used to be Nicaraguan. As I said back then, I’m not an expert and not knowledgable enough to pick sides so I’m just gonna leave it there.


The Nicoya Fuerte only comes in one size 5×52 that Hayes picked because its the most popular size when it comes to sales and it can be smoked is a reasonable time. The filler is all Nicaraguan while the binder and wrapper are Ecuadorean habano, or Sun Grown as we call that in Europe since the Cubans were able toe trademark “habano” and “cuba” even though international laws clearly state you can’t trademark a country. As I take the cigar out of the cellophane I smell a very strong barnyard aroma with some ammonia. The wrapper, that is dark like dark oak feels very silky. The construction feels good with a beautifully rounded single cap. The ring is amazing, very simple, 2 smaller and one bigger purple circle with a white N in the middle circle and white lions in the smaller circles and white lettering Nicoya Cigars Esteli Nicaragua on the silver borders. The back of the ring are wing shaped and thats a nice detail.


I punched the cigar, the ring gauge is 52 so big enough to punch. The cold draw is surprisingly easy and has a little raisin and a lot of pepper. After I used my trusted Ronson to light the cigar I taste a strong coffee with pepper. After a centimeter I taste coffee, less strong as in the beginning, with some leather, spice and a little citrus. After an inch I also taste cocoa and the pepper is back full force. The citrus gained more strength. Halfway it’s leather, cedar, pepper and now a mild citrus mix of flavors. Soon after I taste dark chocolate, like the 72% dark chocolate and the pepper is habanero. Every now and then I also taste hints of vanilla. The finish is a solid coffee again, more towards espresso to be precise.


The smoke is amazing, so thick, so full and so much, the maximum amount of points there and my air cleaner is working overtime. The draw is great, just a tiny bit loose. The ash is light gray and firm, it’s dense too. The burn is good, not perfect but also not touch ups needed. This cigar is full bodied, no question about that, and full flavored. The flavors also linger around for a long time. The smoke time is a solid hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, although the Nicoya Medios is a bit more balanced. This is an after barbecue cigar.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicoya, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RomaCraft Wunder|Lust Robusto

Back in early 2014, on a Flor de Cana infused night at the infamous club Cigar Zone in Esteli, Nicaragua my friend Pedro Gomez Rodriguez from Drew Estate introduced me to a friend of his, Skip Martin from Roma Craft, a company that was very under the radar for me back then, I mean read about the atlatl but that was about it. Skip gave me one of his cigars, the La Campaña de Panamá Sombrero, and instantly I was a fan. Little over a year later I returned to Esteli and contacted Skip, but he was in the hospital in Managua and wouldn’t return to Esteli in the time I was there. But on my last night in Nicaragua I was staying in a hotel in Managua and much to both Skip’s and my surprise I ran into Skip, his girlfriend and his daughter the moment I walked out my room. It goes without saying we ended up smoking a few great cigars that night.


Later that year Skip send me a message he was coming to Amsterdam and Germany the last few weeks of the year and he would arrive in Amsterdam on the 24th. Now I live very close to Amsterdam so that evening I picked Skip and his beautiful girlfriend up, we went for dinner and smoked a RomaCraft Wunderlust pre-release cigar. The next day his German distributer, Annemarie Schuster, joined us and since it was impossible to find a restaurant and a place to smoke on Christmas we ended up with takeaway Chinese at my place and spending the night smoking cigars in my man-cave. It was probably the best Christmas ever, not spending it with an official dinner at the in laws but just chilling with 3 like minded people enjoying a few drinks and a lot of cigars.


And Skip left some Wunderlust pre release cigars for me to enjoy.

Now there has been some talks about the cigar on the internet, mostly about the undisclosed filler. Skip admitted using tobacco from the storage of the Schuster family, that not only distribute premium cigars on the German market (next to RomaCraft they also distribute La Flor Dominicana and Casa Turrent) but they also produce dry cigars for several European countries, for the filler and rumors are that he is using Cuban tobacco for it, something Skip doesn’t admit or deny. The binder and wrapper are no secret, as a binder Skip uses a Indonesian Besuki and the wrapper is a Brazilian Mata Fina.


The wrapper is beautiful, dark, oily and with some tooth, the triple cap is one of the most beautiful I have seen and the construction feels flawless. The aroma is a deep, characterful manure aroma, medium strong. The cigar has the pre-release ring, and I must admit, I haven’t seen pictures of the cigar without the ‘pre-release’ lettering, so I can only rate this ring. Its a simple ring like you see more often at pre-release cigars but instead of a simple piece of paper RomaCraft decided to go for a better quality of paper with, if you look closely, a structure with millimeter thick squares. On the back they printed the RomaCraft logo in black and on the front it ways Wunder|Lust pre-release. For those that wonder what the name is about, its a mix between the german “wunder” what means wonder and wanderlust.

I punched the cigar to find a good cold draw with a dark chocolate, mint and raisin flavor. Now if I would do this cigar Skip Martin style I would simply write ‘I taste well fermented tobacco’ but I’ll do it my way. I lit the cigar with my Ronson soft flame and taste coffee with a little citrus. There is a toast flavor too, a little harsh but in a pleasant way. Pretty quickly the cigar becomes peppery with a hint of mild chocolate. Halfway it’s more of the same pepper, not overpowering though, with a little citrus and some leather. And the leather could be the reason why people suspect Cuban tobacco being used. The leather is getting stronger and I also taste some toast, the pepper is still there.
The smoke is thick and white, there is a lot of it too. The draw is perfect. The dense ash is very white. The burn is razorsharp. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 10 minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Only for sale in Germany, so I guess I’ll have to step in the car soon and drive to Cigarworld in Dusseldorf or the Whisky & Cigar Salon in Gronau and get myself a box

Score: 93
93

Other RomaCraft reviews:
09-13-2015 RomaCraft La Campaña de Panama Sombrero

Categories: 93, Nica Sueno, Nicaraguan cigars, RomaCraft | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro

I knew Riste, the man behind Jas Sum Kral, from Facebook and when he released his first batch of the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, just in a toro size back then, he send a few to Hans van de Witteboer, the owner of Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven with the instruction to give me one the next time I visited Hans’s shop. So my next visit as a salesman Hans gave me the cigar and it blew me away, what an amazing cigar. I talked to my boss about this, he didn’t like the story on the Jas Sum Kral website and wasn’t even close to being interested in importing and distributing the cigars. I did though, so once Riste decided to do some line extensions I calculated the fixed prices for The Netherlands based upon his export prices, pre-sold 40+ boxes in just 5 shops and went back to my employer who then quickly made a deal with Riste.


Now I won’t bother you with the story on the name of the cigar, how it was blended, as this cigar has had so much buzz on social media that everybody will probably know it and if not, google is your best friend. And all the social media buzz is well deserved considering all the ‘top 10/25’ lists of 2016 as Jas Sum Kral is mentioned in a lot of them which is quite remarkable for such a new and small brand, thats not being sold in a lot of shops yet, but if the FDA doesn’t screw the cigar industry up that will change, mark my words and it his slipstream other cigars rolled by Noel Rojas in his Tabacalera NOA in Esteli, like Ohana and Prendelo will follow. Now I don’t mention Rojas his own brands Rojas Reserva, Guayacan and Sabor de Esteli because they already have a wider spread in location. Even though the cigars are rolled at Tabacalera NOA, Riste blended the Jas Sum Kral himself.


When I release the 6×52 toro from the cellophane coat I feel a leathery Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has a few veins and some sparkling from minerals. The construction feels great and the cigar has a close foot and a very pretty pigtail, this shows some skills from the rollers at the NOA factory. The ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim is a piece of art, burgundy with gold, very detailed with lions and lots of small decorations.  When you think of it, the cigars are blended by a Macedonian American, rolled by a Cuban that has a company in Nicaragua and the ring is designed by a Singaporean, this cigar is the epiphany of globalization. The aroma is medium strong and has a little charred wood mixed with manure smell.


Because of the pigtail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine considering the closed foot and I taste mild black tea and a stronger pepper flavor. Once I lit the cigar I taste some leather with blueberry and pepper, with a little fresh aftertaste. After a few puffs I taste some spices with the berries and the fresh aftertaste. After half an inch i taste a little more pepper with toast, some sweetness and a little spice. After an inch i taste more toasted bread with some cinnamon. I get a dry feeling in the back of my throat and still a bit berry and pepper. Then the berry changes into creamy chocolate. After a third I taste cedar with toast, pepper, chocolate and herbs with the creamy chocolate as the strongest. Halfway it’s chocolate with pepper and herbs. Slowly some spices show up again. The chocolate disappears and I taste cedar with spices and pepper, the flavor is amazing. The pepper is gaining strength but the background cedar and spices are still amazing.


The draw is good, just a little bit tight but all within margins. The smoke could be a little thicker but there is enough smoke. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is as straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored, well balanced with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not complain if this was the only cigar I was allowed to smoke for the rest of my life.

Score: 95
95

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

00 Series, full line review

Now this is a kind of unusual review, not of one cigar but of 5 different cigars, all from one factory, series, but different vitolas. You might wonder why I don’t write separate reviews, well, I thought about that too, but I know too little about these cigars to write 5 full reviews and to be honest, the public opinion and sales numbers about these cigars were so poor that my expectations aren’t high at all so why waste 5 posts to these cigars instead of 1 long one with 5 ratings? And it’s a medium filler anyway, not worthy of 5 full reviews. So this will be a long read, but its 5 reviews at once.
00series1
I remember years ago that my then employer said “we have a new product, very cheap, medium filler and I expect a lot from these cigars because of their price”. Well, he was wrong! It’s simple to assume that price is the only reason for success, in this case the price was the only thing that was right but all the other reasons for success we missing. First of all I didn’t have any information, except that my employer got these cigars via Meerapfel in Belgium, so no manufacturer, no blend information, no factory information so I couldn’t give my retailers any information either. Then came the unappealing plain boxes, the cheap looking labels and the terrible name, add that there is completely no information found on the internet and even if there was, the name makes it impossible to find, I mean is the cigar called 01 as in all number ‘zero one’ or O1, as in the letter O and the number 1. Needless to say, I sold all the boxes to several retailers but they had a hard time selling them and I only got one re-order, Carlo from Rokado in Uden had a customer that liked them enough to order two more boxes of the number 3 size.

01

The 01 is the skinniest of the bunch, it measures 5 1/8×36 so that makes is a (short) panatela. The wrapper is a bit dull and feels a bit like very fine sandpaper. The ring is well printed but too simple to stand out, way too simple. Its just a regular shaped ring, dark blue with golden lettering, 2 horizontal stripes broken up by the number 01 (or the letter O and number 1). The construction feels a little soft, a little squishy but the cap is put on with skillful hands. The aroma is faint, but after a few sniffs I smell a manure aroma without any ammonia or acidity.


Due to the small ring gauge I can’t punch the cigar so I opted to cut it. The cold draw is surprisingly easy I though but then I remembered this being a medium filler. The cold draw is pretty tasteless, only a mild pepper taste. Lighting the cigar is pretty easy and I taste a musty earthy and coffee flavor. Too musty for my liking. The cigar gets a little harsh and the harshness grows to a level where I would have tossed the cigar if I wasn’t smoking it for a review.


The draw is fine, the smoke is oke, reasonably full but gray instead of white. The ash is fine, light gray and firm for a medium filler. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke time of this medium bodied mild flavored cigar is forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 72
number72

02

The 02 is the nub of the family, 4 inch long and a ring gauge of 62. Studio Tobac started with the nub, a lof of companies followed and I still don’t understand why and more, why these sizes are selling as I find all of them dull, boring and they lack dynamic due to the filler vs wrapper ratio.  The wrapper is identical to the wrapper on the 01 and the same goes for the ring with the difference in color, where the 01 has a dark blue ring, the 02 has a pitch black ring, shiny though. The cigar feels evenly packed but the head has a bump. The mild to medium strong aroma reminds me of a barn at a petting zoo.


Due to the big ring gauge I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a little on the loose side with a mild musty raisin flavor. After lighting the cigar taste musty, Connecticut Shade musty but the wrapper doesn’t look like shade grown. It’s musty cedar with some nutmeg, it’s not bad. After half an inch it’s just musty cedar, musty with a capitol M. After a third the cigar gets peppery and spicy but not in a great way, it’s better than the first third but there is no nuance or complexity just harsh wood and pepper. Near the end it’s musty again.


The draw is a bit on the loose side. The smoke is good though, not the thickest I’ve seen but still good and a better color than the 01. The ash is white and firm. The burn is oke. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is about 50 minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

03
The 03 is a fat robusto, a 5×60 and the wrapper is a lighter color than the 01 and the 02. The binder must not be very pretty either because I can see pimples under the wrapper, if this cigar was a teenager it would surely grab an acne lotion. The ring is boring like the 01 and the 02, just a shiny, bright green with golden 03, no fancy stripes like on the 01 and 02, just plain and boring. The construction feels good, the cigar is evenly packed although at the head of the cigar I feel a piece that doesn’t feel round but flat instead. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of hay and a barn before the hay of the night before is cleaned out.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a bit loose, but then again, it is a medium filler. I taste almost nothing, only a little harsh tobacco. After lighting I taste a little nutmeg and cinnamon, the flavors feel warm. The flavor isn’t bad nor great, and there is no evolution. Halfway the nutmeg and cinnamon becomes a bit musty. Near the end the cigar gets a little harsh.


The draw is good. The smoke is also very good, plenty and thick. The ash is light gray but not too firm. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied cigar medium flavored with poor evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

04

The 04 is the first one with a regular size, 5×50 robusto and the wrapper looks the same as the 01 and the 02 but a little rougher because of a vein. The ring is burgundy red with golden letters and just like the 03 without the stripes on the side. This is the first of the series where I can’t comment on the construction, it feels good and looks good. The aroma is mild and smells like straw and hay, clean straw and hay.


After my experiences with the first 3 I am reluctant to smoke number 4, but you should finish what you start so I cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine, a little spicy. I taste a mild coffee with some acidity after lighting the cigar. Halfway the cigar is all citrus with spices. The cigar slowly gets a little harsh.


The draw is great. The smoke is a bit thin. The light gray ash is layered and firm for a medium filler. The burn is straight. The evolution is almost non existent again. This is a medium  bodied medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

05

The 6×60 gordo has the roughest wrapper of them all, a shade darker than the 01, 02 and 04 but still dull, dry and with a sandpaper touch and a little roughness on the appearance. The cigar feels well packed and looks fine. As for the ring, I think the designer went on a bender during the weekend and designed this on monday morning while still intoxicated. Come on, I can handle the diamond shaped squares with the golden outlines but the color combination? What is this, a carnival cigar? Alternating purple and orange with gold? What was the designer thinking? And then using the same purple to write 05 in an orange square? People are fired for less. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of hay that has been used in a barn, but I also smell a little mint.


After the first 4 cigars I’m dreading this one, bad scores and flavors overall, and the final cigar is a size I hate so that combination makes me not want to light the cigar. I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great but tasteless. After lighting I taste a musty earthy flavor. Halfway I taste a little pepper.


The draw is a bit loose with a decent amount of medium thick smoke. The ash is light gray and coarse. The burn is decent. The evolution is non existent. This is a mild to medium bodied and mild to medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 76
number76

Categories: 00 Series, 72, 76, 77, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jas Sum Kral Crna Nok Toro

I am fluent in two languages, Dutch and English, I can manage myself in German and I can handle most of the Spanish cigar names like Antiguedad, Sobremesa, Guayacan, Mi Querida and other Spanish names but leave it to that Riste Riatevski guy to mess that up by naming his cigars in Macedonian. Now Jas Sum Kral is doable and his first blend that was released has an English name (Red Knight, see a review of the lancero here), then he came out with a limited edition for a herf in Minnesota that was just called the maduro (review here), so far so good. But then he started messing with everybody out there and decided to call his Connecticut Shade cigar the Zlatno Sonce (review here), a limited edition coffin with 2 A sized cigars the Da Cebak (review next month) and this Connecticut Broadleaf one the Crna Nok, which to me sounds like something Mr. Worf, the Klingon from Star Trek, would say right before battle.


I fell in love with Jas Sum Kral the minute I smoked my first Red Knight toro, a cigar that I will review later this year, I promise and met Riste at Intertaback 2016 after being Facebook friends for a long time and helping him to get his cigars distributed in The Netherlands. Riste send me a package with some Zlatno Sonce, Crna Nok and a coffin Da Cebak and I promised to review them. This cigar, just like all other Jas Sum Kral cigars, except the Da Cebak, is blended by Riste and made at Noel Rojas’ factory Tabacalera NOA, which is becoming one of my favorite factories in Nicaragua. The cigar has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican binder and a filler that has some ligero and piloto cubana corojo amongst others. On www.jassumkral.com the description says “while this cigar is smooth as fuck, I can feel the nicotine” so I my anticipation of this cigar is high.


I love the ring, as I have said in my previous Jas Sum Kral reviews, the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim did an awesome job. The only thing changed for this Crna Nok is the background color, where the Red Knight has some red in it, this ring is completely black with the golden logo and details, so very well designed and printed, beautiful ring. The cigar has a closed foot, a detail I love and it fits with the rustic, toothy dark and leathery wrapper that has a few sparkles of minerals in the leave. The construction feels good and that closed foot gives it some bonus points. The cigar has a strong charcoal smell, like its been fire cured, but mixed with dark chocolate and fresh toast.


I couldn’t find my punch so I grabbed my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste pepper, raisin and some spices. After lighting it with my Ronson lighter I taste coffee with cedar and nutmeg. After a few puffs I also taste honey. After half an inch i taste toasted wood with pepper and honey. I also taste some licorice a few puffs later and the cigar is very dry, I will probably drink a lot of water during this review. After an inch I taste that toasty, smoky wood with pepper and a faint chocolate. Every few puffs I taste some sweetness and a little lemon too. The final third starts with charred wood, sweetness, some pepper and a little lemon. The charred flavor is getting stronger but balanced well with the lemon.


The smoke is thick and full and the draw is fabulous. The ash is frayed but firm and salt & pepper colored. The burn is a little off but not so bad that it needs correcting. This medium full to full bodied cigar is smooth indeed, but still full flavored and with plenty of evolution and a great balance. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would, great cigar!

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Santiago Connecticut Robusto

At Intertabac 2016 I met the guys of Santiago cigars who shared their booth with Gerard from Nicoya. As we were talking about cigars, about their brand, a private label made by Plasencia as so many others they gave me a few of their cigars to review. I had very good cigars made by Plasencia, I had bad ones and I probably had a lot of Plasencia cigars without even knowing they are made by this very influential family that are the biggest growers of tobacco in Nicaragua and Honduras with huge cigar factories on both sides of the border too. If you ever happen to be in Esteli, try to visit the cathedral of tobacco as the Plasencia factory is being called by everybody and do yourself a favor, peek at the daycare centre Plasencia founded across the street too, if you’re lucky the kids will sing a song and do a dance for you, its adorable.


Now Roberto from Santiago handed me their three blends, a habano, a maduro and a Connecticut. I warned Robert as I hate Connecticut. To me it’s a demonic invention and I picture hell as a huge hipster filled cigar shop with nothing but Connecticut shade cigars, an alcohol free bar and only vegan food. But, and I have heard this from many manufacturers including some big names, Roberto swore me that their Connecticut shade is different than all other. None of the manufacturers that said this to me were right though, there is something about Connecticut shade that makes me despise it, the musty taste, the pale look, its not my thing but the same tobacco grown broadleaf is a whole different thing though, that I love.


The Santiago Connecticut Robusto is a 5×50 box pressed cigar, made in the Nicaraguan factory of Plasencia with Nicaraguan filler, a double binder, both from Nicaragua and a Connecticut Shade wrapper from the Talanga region of Honduras. The wrapper is typical Connecticut shade, pale, thin and it has a few veins. The construction is flawless though with a beautiful triple cap. The ring is beautiful, its a dark green, close to grey, with golden linings and white letters Santiago de Los Caballeros Nicaragua but what makes the band stand out is the shiny, black and slightly raised cross. The bottom ring is the same greenish gray with golden lining and red letters Connecticut, something I would have done in white to make it matching. This is the exact same comment as I made for the Habano version of the cigar btw and I do understand why they didn’t do it in white but in different colors to make the cigars stand apart more in a humidor, but I think the different colors of the wrapper should already do that. The aroma is a like walking into a dry barn where the farmer just put down some fresh hay before the sheep or cow come back in.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great. The flavor is mellow except for a strong pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar with my vintage Ronson, my favorite lighter. The flavor is actually quite nice, sweet coffee with some cinnamon except I also taste a little bit of the typical Connecticut Shade mustiness. After a centimeter I taste some cedar with a little bit of salt and sweetness but unfortunately the mustiness gets stronger too. After a thirds the mustiness is getting to the level I expect from a Shade cigar but surprisingly I also taste a pretty strong red pepper. Halfway the mustiness tones down, I now taste cedar again with cinnamon, some sweetness and a nice amount of pepper. Near the end I taste the mustiness again with some pepper and nuts.


The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The draw is just perfect. The burn is fine, not razor sharp but also not crooked. The cigar is mild bodied but medium plus flavored. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No but if someone gifts me one I will smoke it again and that I don’t say about a lot of Connecticut Shade cigars. Roberto was right when he said that this cigar isn’t the same as other Shade cigars.

Score: 89

Categories: 89, Nicaraguan cigars, Santiago | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Undercrown Manifesto

Now here’s a cigar that needs a little bit of an introduction, well, not the cigar itself but how I got it and where I smoked it. The cigar itself is just a Undercrown in an incredible vitola, 11 inch long with a ring gauge of 40, so sort of a double lancero, but it’s a unique size and only available at events so rare. And even though I worked for the Dutch Drew Estate distributer before Agio took over and that I spend a lot of hours with JD in the car, visited his home, the Drew Estate offices in Miami and the factory in Esteli several times I never was able to get my hands on this cigar. Not that i’m complaining though as Jonathan and the other guys from DE have always been very generous with me.


So, as I said, I worked for a cigar distributor and one day I heard about a convenience shop, a franchiser part of a group of shops called Primera in the pittoresk town of Hoorn was thinking about a walk-in humidor so I dropped by. Owner Bjorn didn’t know a lot back then but had great plans and a few months later he had build a fantastic walk-in humidor in his shop, he visited Nicaragua and Cuba too and is now a knowledgeable and passionate tobacconist. Together we picked a nice assortment for his shop and promised to be easy with exchanging cigars if they wouldn’t sell as I wanted him to succeed. Well, he did, he turned an empty space on the attic into a smoke lounge but that happened after I lost the job. Last week someone posted a picture of the Manifesto in the Balmoral/Drew Estate group on Facebook and I replied that I had never smoked that cigar. Two days later Bjorn reached out to me, said he had a coffin of two Manifestos and said “come see my new lounge and we will both smoke the manifesto”, an offer I couldn’t refuse for four reasons: the manifesto, my curiosity about his smoke lounge, it’s nice to smoke a cigar with people that are passionate about tobacco and Bjorn is a nice guy. So here I am, at the lounge of Primera Grooteman in Hoorn, about to light and review the Undercrown Manifesto.


The cigars come in a pair in a coffin and when you open it you see two cigars completely wrapped in a blue paper. The cigar is long and thin, the binder has a lot of veins and it shows under the wrapper. The wrapper is mild oily with a reddish glow. The construction feelers great and I love pig tails. The blue and golden ring is pretty with the lion on top of an upside down crown, the drew estate logo on the side and the Undercrown name at the back. The aroma reminds me of a barnyard and is medium strong.


Due to the thin size I had to cut the cigar. I used my Joya de Nicaragua branded xikar cutter. The cold draw is flawless and I taste raisin with a spicy and peppery aftertaste. I lit the cigar with a classic soft flame, this long and thin cigar deserves some class over a jet flame. I taste a sweet yet spicy coffee flavor, very tasty. After half an inch I taste a strong mix of cedar, nutmeg and walnuts with a nice hint of pepper. The walnuts grow stronger with some spices with a little vanilla. I love the cool smoke because of the length of the cigar. After a third the cigar gets a little stronger. Halfway I taste some pepper, not overpowering though, with green herbs, spices and a faint mint. The pepper slowly grows in strength. Near the end it’s pepper and cedar with pepper as the main flavor. Right before I put the cigar away the pepper disappears and I taste a nice wood with cinnamon flavor.


The draw is amazing, especially when you consider the difficult vitola. This shows excellent skills of the torcedor. The smoke is classic Drew Estate, that means there is a lot of thick smoke, only the color isn’t perfectly white but I’m not bothered. The light colored ash is pretty but not too firm. The burn is fantastic. This is a medium full bodied and full flavored cigar. The evolution and complexity it great. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish, the vitola makes this cigar more subtle and complex than the regular Undercrown without losing strength or flavor. Thank you Bjorn for sharing this cigar with me!

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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