Nicaraguan cigars

Cuenca 5th Anniversary Robusto

A few years ago Joya de Nicaragua hired Jose Blanco and with owner Dr Martinez Cuenca the company released the Cuenca y Blanco but had to change the name because there was already a Cuenca cigar and trademark, namely the one from Cuenca Cigars, a shop in Hollywood, Florida and the Cuenca line of cigars is their house blend but it’s also sold at other shops.


I don’t know much about this cigar except that it’s made in Nicaragua with Dominican filler, a criollo binder (country unknown to me) and a ligero wrapper from Jalapa, Nicaragua and blended with help of A.J. Fernandez. Since AJ helped with the blend, I’m guessing the cigars are made at his factory too. The cigar is box pressed, measured 5×54 and has an MSRP of 8 dollars. The price tag on the cigar says Smoke Inn VI, a shop in Margate, Florida.


The wrapper is silky on the touch but looks like a piece of fine, dark, leather with some veins. The ring is nice, black with gold and red with a big  in the middle and a green banner Cuenca, the print quality is fine so the details can be seen clearly. The construction feels good, its a well made cigar. The aroma is very strong, dark chocolate and hay, that’s what I smell.


I cut the flat head, the spicy cold draw has hints of pepper, lemon and raisin. The draw is good. After lighting I taste a mild acidic and bitter coffee and dark chocolate flavor. The first inch stays this way. After a third I taste coffee with sweetness, a little lime and pepper. The sweetness disappears, I taste more dark chocolate, pepper, coffee and even some nuts.


The draw is great. The ash is light gray. The burn is pretty good. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness. The cigar is medium full bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is close to an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Next time I see them in a shop I’ll get a fiver.

Score: 90
number90

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Categories: 90, Cuenca, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Micallef Reserva Churchill

This is the last of the four cigars from the Micallef family at the intertabac trade show, and the largest one, a 7×52 Churchill made with tobacco that have been aged for a minimum of eight years. The wrapper is San Andres Habano from Mexico, the binder is from Nicaragua while the filler comes from Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. After rolling the cigars have been aged for an additional year.


If you read my previous reviews, you have read something about the history of the Gomez Sanchez family but not that even the third generation was born on Cuba, way aft the revolution, and that they started working in the cigar industry on Cuba on their own, so it’s not like they rolled into the world of tobacco because their grandfather owned a factory. Only in 1994 and 1998 Joel and Edel managed to leave the island of Cuba and join their family in the factory.


As this is a Micallef cigar, the ring is that eastern European ring again, lots of gold and silver with bold red letters and a golden foot ring with red letters. Well printed, good quality, but not my taste. The dark wrapper is shiny and oily, smooth too. The cigar feels well constructen with a nice flattened head. Even though the cigar is made of age tobaccos and has been resting for a year after rolling, the aroma is still a little acidic, ammonia, but not too strong though.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great and tastes herbal. After lighting I taste a gingerbread cookie flavor, sweet and with some spices like gingerbread is supposed to be. After half an inch I taste pepper with wood. After an inch I taste that gingerbread again with a little more pepper. Slowly some powdered sugar sweetness shows up too. The flavors remain the same until the final third when the pepper becomes real strong.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The color is white. The ash on the other hand is dark. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar is medium in flavor and strength. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the right price.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Micallef, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Cornelius & Anthony Señor Esugars Robusto

It’s almost time for Intertabac again and last year Courtney Smith gave me a handful of Cornelius & Anthony cigars that I enjoyed a lot. I did reviews on all of them, including the Señor Esugars but not on this vitola, only the toro. So with the trade show around the corner I thought it was a good idea to review this cigar in this 5×52 size.


Again this cigar has been made by Erik Espinoza at La Zona in Esteli, the most wonderful factory on a great location with a beautiful deck. If you happen to be in Esteli, drop by, if you’re lucky Mr. Warmth Hector Alfonso is there to entertain you with some great stories about how he came to work with Erik for example. And try the Cuban style coffee too while enjoying a cigar on their balcony, stare away into the mountains and enjoy life. This Señor Esugars is a great cigar to smoke while you are sitting there overthinking life. Enjoy the Nicaraguan filler, the USA grown binder and the Mexican San Andres wrapper while you soak in the atmosphere.


The ring, again, fantastic. Now the sample that I have didn’t have the secondary Señor Esugars ring but from pictures I’ve seen it fits the main ring. The very dark, like dark roasted coffee beans, color wrapper has a clear vein giving the cigar a mean look that fits the color of the wrapper, yet the dog on the artwork balances it out. The cigar is well constructed, great shape, evenly packed. The smell is medium strong and a mix of manure, charcoal, barbecue smoke and ammonia.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, spicy and the flavors have a twang. After lighting the cigar I taste a spicy, earthy and peppery flavor with a little lime acidity. The pepper and acidity are a perfect match. After three quarters of an inch I taste some floral notes too, and green herbs. Halfway I taste more lemon but still with a lot of pepper and some wood. The pepper mellows out a bit at the start of the final third.


The draw is awesome, perfect. The smoke is thick, white and full. The ash is white, clear white. The ash is a bit coarse. The burn is good. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes yes yes

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Cigar of the month August

August was a month of 12 published reviews, including one with the name I used as a nickname on forums like Club Stogie and Cigar Asylum when forums were still the place to be.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

La Preferida 452 with a 95 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) La Preferida 452 (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Ave Maria Argentum (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) Guayacan Maduro Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Leon Jimenes Don Fernando (Dominican Republic) 92 points
5) Xiphos Habano Robusto (Costa Rica) 92 points
6) Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill (USA) 91 points
9) Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberus (Nicaragua) 90 points
10) Winston Churchill by Davidoff The Artist (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Ahuriba Light Corona (Aruba) 90 points
12) Swag Lancero (Dominican Republic) 88 points

 

Categories: Cigar of the month, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ave Maria Argentum

Before I started to work for a Dutch cigar importer & distributer, I used to order online from the USA and one of the cigars that I ordered a lot was the Diesel Unholy Cocktail. When I started to work for that importer & distributer I felt like I couldn’t do that anymore since it was not a legal thing to do as its considered tax evading, you are only allowed to import tobacco if you have a license with the exemption of 50 cigars that you carry across the border in person and because all my accounts were cigar shops that feel the pain of this import. But I did miss my Diesel Unholy Cocktails. So I kept asking my employer if there was a way to import these but everytime he would reply “these are made for the wholesaler that is part of Cigars International so they probably won’t sell to us anyway”. Well, after three years of nagging he finally decided to mail Meier & Dutch and much to his surprise and my happiness they were open to the idea. On top of that I ran into the responsible person a few weeks later at Tabacalera Oliva in Esteli, Nicaragua and that sealed the deal.


We started with the Diesel, Manowar and a few other cigars and slowly expanded our business with Meier & Dutch but right before the Cigaragua shop was opened I got fired as my employer had his doubts if I would be a good shopmanager. He’s wrong, but as an employee you don’t always get a chance to prove that. Too bad, because a lot of new items came in just to be sold in that shop and nowhere else in The Netherlands. Amongst those cigars is this Ave Maria Argentum, just like the Diesel Unholy Cocktail and the Manowar made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. I have been to the factory and its very impressive, huge, clean and I could roam free without a chaperone, something that didn’t happen anywhere else. I met Abdel too a few times, now that his English improved we can actually hold a conversation, something that was impossible before because of my lack of Spanish.


What I notice first is the shape and the color, It’s almost a flying pic but there is just a tiny difference in shape. The cigar is a 5×58 perfecto. The color is striking because its almost black, I have never seen a wrapper this dark and you can see that the sun did its work as the surface of the toothy wrapper looks like leather. Well, thats as far as you can see the wrapper because the ring is huge, and to add to that they added a second ring too. The second ring is black with big silver lining and the word Argentum written in font that makes me think of medievel times and knights. The real ring has the same black & silver theme going on with a knight, the english crest and a banner with silver letters ave maria. On the back the ring has a red cross. I like the look of the ring. The cigar feels rock hard I just hope it doesn’t have a tight draw and the strong aroma reminds me of a hay stack in a field surrounded by some cows and an angry bull.


I couldn’t punch the cigar so I had to cut it with my flat cut. The cold draw is great with some pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar carefully, expecting a tight start but from that the start the draw is good and I taste coffee with chocolate. Once the burn gets to the thicker part the flavors open and I taste cedar, pepper, cinnamon and a hint of cacao. I also taste a little sweetness, icing sugar like sweetness. The sweetness is getting a little stronger, just like the cedar. After a third I taste a nice spice mix with sugar and pepper, this is the sweetness I expect from a Maduro wrapper like this. Halfway the base flavor becomes nutty with pepper and a little bit of sweetness. Slowly but surely the cigar gets stronger and so does the pepper, the nuts change to wood.


The draw is wonderful. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The burn had to be corrected once but that always happens to me when lighting a cigar with a foot like that. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The cigar starts out medium bodied but evolved to full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a great cigar!

Score: 94
94

Categories: 94, Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo

Years ago, and I mean a decade ago, I joined a cigar forum/board called Club Stogie and it was a fountain of knowledge and friendships. But then some investor bought the place and two other boards, fused them together to puff.com and the vibe was gone, it sucked so I was happy that the 11 Club Stogie moderators decided to start their own new boars, Cigar Asylum and I’ve been a member since day one, somewhere in 2008.


Now because of all the friendships made there me and another Dutch member got the idea to do a roadtrip and when we talked about that on the board 2 Florida based botl’s said they wanted to join in. So in the spring of 2009 we flew to Orlando, picked the other guys up and started on an epic road trip all along the east coast, from Key Largo all the way up to Rochester, NY  with a herf every single night, and then we flew to Las Vegas for the final chapter of the trip. Over 30 people flew from all over the US to Vegas to herf with us those days. Andrew Wood from GDW Cigars, who’s also responsible for the Don Fernando cigars, Reserva Miraflor and Goviada, had a special batch and blend made for the Vegas days called ELVIS, which stood for Epic Las Vegas International Smoke. And I have a few of these cigars left.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the cigar except the looks because I don’t know anything about the blend. And it’s been years since I smoked one so I don’t even know what it tasted like anymore. All I can tell you is that the cellophane started to discolor and that the cigar feels like velvet when I take it out of the cello. The cigar has a medium brown color and a few veins. The top of the torpedo is well finished and the construction feels good. The strong is quite strong for an 8 year old cigar and reminds me of hay and horses. Then the ring, well, it was just a small batch, not for retail purposes so the print quality isn’t super high, but hey, most companies, especially the small ones, wouldn’t even put a ring on for the occasion, and the ring is cool. Its a black and white Elvis but the middle part is turned around, I mean, the top and the legs of Elvis are in black on a white background his torso is white on a black background and in golden lettering it says ELVIS 2009 and then in black Las Vegas Cigar Asylum. Pretty cool right, if you were there.


It’s a torpedo so punching is not an option so it’s butterfly cut time. The cold draw is good and I taste some raisin but then I get a strong pepper on my lips. I taste a strong sweet coffee flavor. After a centimeter the sweetness is strong with some pepper and a little bit of coffee and leather. After an inch I taste a mild chocolate flavor with some pepper. Halfway I taste a metallic flavor, some wood and a lot of pepper and still that sugary sweetness. Near the end the pepper gains more strength.


I would like to see the smoke thicker and more in volume. The draw is perfect. The ash is gray, dense and firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied, full flavored, well balanced and with a good evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Thats impossible

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, E.L.V.I.S., Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Guayacan Maduro Robusto

In 2013 Noel Rojas, blender and owner of Guayacan and of the Tabacalera New Order of the Ages factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, showcased his Guayacan Maduro at the IPCPR trade show but the cigar never got released due to inconsistency in the tobacco. A year later, July 2014, he showcased it again in a slightly different blend with Nicaraguan tobacco and a Mexican San Andres wrapper and that cigar did hit the market. The cigar were made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory, owned by Rojas back then before he moved on to his new factory after leaving the distribution deal with House of Emilio too. I met Noel in person in Esteli in May 2015 and his cigars are available on the Dutch market because of my involvement. I reviewed the Guayacan Habano earlier this year and I also reviewed some private labels made by Noel Rojas for others like the Kilo made for Barry Stein and Jas Sum Kral made for Riste Riatevski.


Before I got Noel a distribution deal in The Netherlands with my then (and now previous) employer Noel send me a few boxes of cigars as a sampler, most of which I handed out to my employer and some of our regular customers to get their impression but of course I kept a few for myself and in hindsight I should have kept more. The cigar that I’m smoking is a 5×50 robusto that comes wrapped in cellophane. Once I get the cigar out of the cellophane I see a beautiful almost very dark wrapper with a very fine tooth and my mouth starts to water as my brain thinks of a chocolate bar. There are no big veins visible. The construction feels good and the cigar has a pretty triple cap. The ring is also a piece of art, the edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma mixed with wood, I don’t smell any ammonia.


I punched the cigar and find the cold draw to be great. I taste dry raisin with pepper. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. Instantly I taste coffee. It’s not a bitter coffee but a nice coffee with spices. Soon after chocolate joins the spiced coffee. The flavors are very dry, guess I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The flavors remind me of autumn.


After a third I taste wood, autumn leaves and a tiny bit of cocoa. The cigar still gives me a dry mouth. Halfway the cocoa changes into a flavor that reminds me of chocolate paste that you use on a slice of bread. There is also a little sweetness from the Maduro wrapper and warm spices. On the background I also taste some macadamia nuts. After two thirds the chocolate changes back to cocoa powder with the leaves and some spices. There is a nice pepper in the aftertaste without becoming to overpowering. At the final puffs I taste some nuts again with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, close to perfect. The smoke is medium thick and I would have liked to see thicker smoke and more of it. The burn is sharp and leaves a white ash. The ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with a decent amount of evolution and a good balance.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like it but I like the Habano better.

Score: 92

92

Categories: Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius

I used to work for the Dutch distributer of Casa Magna, next to the Casa Magna Colorado we also carried the Honduran made Casa Magna Oscuro and the Casa Magna Domus Magnus Primus and Optimus and they sold, except for the oscuro. The Domus Magnus I smoked a lot too, great cigar for a great price. We even introduced it at the first Dutch Big Smoke in 2010. Fast forward to 2014, Quesada released a second Domus Magnus year with a few new sizes including this Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius but they weren’t on the international price list so we couldn’t order them.


A year later I went to Nicaragua with Marcel Langedijk and Jesaja Hutubessy, a journalist and a photographer for the book Cigaragua they wanted to publish and I was the one that arranged the whole trip. If you write a book about Nicaraguan tobacco and cigars you cannot ignore the Plasencia family so even though we didn’t do any business with them I made an appointment. During our meeting there Nestor Andres Plasencia handed me a Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius and explained me that the strange shape actually came from a Bic lighter, they made a mold out of the shape of the lighter to make this 6×54 figurado and they used nothing but Nicaraguan tobacco. I lit the cigar and fell in love.


Right after I returned from the trip we needed to place an order at Quesada, I requested the latest international price sheet and again, no Domus Magnus II mentioned so I started to push a little and within a few days Raquel Quesada got me prices and we placed a big order for The Netherlands. Now the cigar looks good, it has a medium brown wrapper, like dark oak, with a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the wrapper looks nice with some marbling and hardly any veins. The cigar has two rings, a foot ring in black with small red vertical lines, golden outline and golden lettering D. Magnus II Limitada. The normal ring has that same red & black vertical striping and the golden outline on the sides and back and a big yellow logo on the from with a red banner. The brand name Casa Magna is printed in golden and on a small banner at the bottom it says D. Magnus II limitada. I smell a mild woody aroma.


Due to the unusual shape I had no choice but to cut and I used my Xikar XI2 cutter for that. The cold draw is good and I taste some woody and pepper flavors. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a pleasant coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste cedar and a little metallic flavor. This is not how I remember the cigar when I first smoked it. After a centimeter I taste mild peanuts with still some metallic flavor. After a third i also taste a little bit of cocoa.

Right before I reach halfway the metallic flavor is gone, I now taste herbs, toast and wood. After two thirds I taste some faint cocoa again. After that the cigar gets spicier again and the metal flavor returns too, but faint. The finish is great.


The draw is flawless and the ash is light colored, dense and firm. The shape of the cigar doesn’t feel weird or unusual as you might suspect. The smoke is medium thick and medium in amount. The burn is quite straight. The cigar is full bodied and medium full to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, even if it was just to see if this is a dud or that the one I smoked in Nicaragua stood out from the rest.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Casa Magna, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

La Preferida 452

Didier Houvenaghel is a Belgian agricultural engineer who’s passion is tobacco and he wrote what is probably the best book about cigars ever: The cigar: from soil to soul. I have seen the book, read parts from it but I have yet to find a copy for myself but the book is out of print and its not available on Amazon, Ebay or any other sites that I know. Maybe I should ask Didier when I see him either in Singapore where both his and my wife live or at the Intertabac trade show.


Didier also started his own cigar brands, La Ley and Nicarao but last year he expanded with a new line, La Preferida. All his cigars are made by A.J. Fernandez and Didier handed me this cigar in person. The cigar comes in two sizes, 4×52 or 5×52 an its made with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Mexican binder and an Ecuadorian Habano Colorado wrapper. I smoked the 4×52 for this review.


The dark chocolate colored wrapper looks smooth, not big veins, a nice even color, a very clean wrapper. The ring is very classic, just a 1920’s era lady on the baby blue ring and a yellow banner with the La Preferida name. The cigar feels well constructed and looks good.  A medium dark aroma finishes the cigar, I think of dark chocolate with some pepper.


I used a butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is perfect, I get a spicy tangy flavor on my lips. After lighting I taste a strong, pleasant espresso with a subtle sweetness. There is also a hint of cocoa. After a third it’s a spicy coffee and cedar combination with a little chocolate. After a third I taste wood with cocoa, a little sweetness, spice and pepper. Halfway the cigar gets sweeter, with some vanilla over spices and dry cedar. There are subtle changes in flavor, the final third has something floral, with still some pepper.


The draw is flawless, the smoke is thick, white and voluminous. The ash is white, dense and firm. I’m positive awed by the balance in the strong flavor. The burn is great. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is long, an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, over and over again. I loved it so much that I grabbed my Nub tool.

Score: 95
number95

Categories: 7-20-4, 95, La Preferida, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso

As I wrote in my review of the Undercrown Sungrown Flying Pig, this cigar was given to me by the man himself, Willy Herrera, at the intertabac trade show last year. I met Willy years ago, when he just started working for Drew Estate and have met him several times since mostly at the factory of his inlaws and the place where he got his claim to fame: El Titan de Bronze, a must see if you’re ever in Miami.


I have been to the Drew Estate HQ in Miami a few times, I have been to the factory in Esteli a few times and I can only say that I have mad respect for the company that Jonathan Drew built, starting from a push cart at the World Trade Center to one of the biggest and most modern factories in the world, from just cigar sales to being a major manufacturer and then rebranding yourself from a infused cigar manufacturer to a well respected and loved brand by serious cigar smokers, all the while being different then others with incorporating art, the style, the culture and of course the immense social media coverage. Kudos.


As the cigar, its a 6×52 Belicoso. The Ecuadorian Sumatra sun grown wrapper has a little tooth and a little oil. Maybe because the wrapper is bigger than on the Flying Pig, but it looks a little rougher and less smooth. The ring is the same, the classic Undercrown logo in gold on a red background and the foot ring is in the same color scheme. The construction feels good with a nice round head on the belicoso. The aroma is barnyard with manure, medium to full in strength.


Due to the shape cutting the cigar is my only option. The cold draw is great, with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee. I also taste a little citrus and wood. After a quarter of an inch I taste more cinnamon and lemon, the coffee is gone. Some pepper shows up too. After a third it’s wood, pepper and some lime. Halfway I taste a mild peanut with lime and pepper. The final third is wood with pepper and a mild floral flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is typical Drew Estate, thick, white and plentiful. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn is straight. The cigar starts medium bodied but turns full bodied, full flavored along the way. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , ,

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