Nicaraguan cigars

Xiphos NR Maduro Robusto

So far I have reviewed three different Xiphos cigars, an American boutique brand, all those three cigars were all made in Costa Rica. But Xiphos offeres more than just Costa Rican cigars, there are two Nicaraguan cigars in their portfolio too, both made at Tabacalera Noa from master blender Noel Rojas. The Xiphos NR comes in a Habano and in a Maduro wrapper and both lines come in three sizes, a 5×52 robusto, a 6×52 toro and a 6×60 gordo.


Both lines share the filler, well aged Nicaraguan tobacco and the binder, which is Indonesian, but the wrapper is different. Either an Ecuadorian Habano or a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. I have both cigars but today I’ll be focussing on the maduro. I will review the Habano too at a later time though.


The wrapper is dark and has even darker smears and spots. I see one thick vein on the back, about an inch and a half long. While the rings on the Costa Rican made cigars are silver and blue, which is a very Greek color scheme, the Nicaraguan made cigars have a blue and silver ring with red lettering in the same Greek style as the Costa Rica ones. The secondary ring is black with red outlines and red lettering saying maduro in a classic Greek font. The cigar has a dark smell of charcoal and manure. The cigar is well shaped, triple capped with a nice quite flat head.


I sliced a thin cap off with a Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is good and I taste pepper and sultanas. After lighting I taste a full coffee flavor with wood and nutmeg. After a few puffs I taste a chalky vanilla sweetness with leather and cumin. Soon some toast turns up too. After a third I start to taste some pepper too. Halfway I taste pepper and chocolate with a little vanilla and toast. In the final third I taste the toast again but with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, the white ash is dense and firm. The smoke is white and quite thick and plentiful. The burn is good. The cigar is smooth, it starts medium bodied but grows to become full bodied and full flavored. There’s plenty of evolution in this cigar too. The smoke time is an hour and a forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they were available in The Netherlands I would get a box. I even grabbed my nub tool to enjoy this cigar as long as possible.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa, Xiphos | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Nica Puro Tubo Churchill

During the last Intertabac trade show, my friend George Sosa gave me the Nica Puro churchill in a tube. Now I knew the Nice Puro, I love that cigar, but the tubo was new to me. That’s not strange since hardly no cigar comes in tubes no more in The Netherlands due to anti smoke regulations. All ‘packaging units’ need to be stickered with warning labels, previously the Dutch version of the FDA didn’t consider tubes as a packaging unit until 4 years ago. And with every tube 65% covered in warning labels you couldn’t see anything on the tubo no more so most distributers decided to scrap them from their portfolio and don’t introduce new ones, like this Alec Bradley tube.


Well, the Nica Puro, it’s one of the few Alec Bradley cigars that isn’t made at Raices Cubanas in Danli, Honduras because this Nica Puro is made in Esteli, Nicaragua by the Plasencia family at their Cathedral de tobaccos as the locals call the Plasencia factory. I’ve been there, a beautiful factory with a hacienda style courtyard with fountain, a huge hall full of cigar rollers that hit their rolling desk with their chaveta when visitors come walking in as a sign of respect. Great place to visit, the Plasencia’s are great people and together with Alec Bradley they made this great cigars.


The cigar is dark, with a mild glossy, dark chocolate colored wrapper. A busy big ring with the Alec Bradley logo surrounded by different colored ovals and the NICA PURO letters and the year 1685 on the bottom. The construction feels good with a nice rounded head and a triple cap. The cigar has a strong aroma, hay, stable, charred hickory and manure come to mind. The tube is gold colored with the Alec Bradley logo in black on the top part and the Nica Puro in red on the bottom part.


I used my punch to punch a hole in the wrapper. I taste thick, sweet raisin and some pepper in the great cold draw. After lighting I taste coffee, sweetness and nutmeg. After an inch I taste some pepper too. Halfway I taste mild, sweet chocolate with dry leafs and spices. The flavors turn meaty. The final third starts with leather and a hefty pepper. I also taste some nuts.


The draw is good. The smoke is medium thick and full. The burn is straight and the light gray ash is as is firm. I would call this cigar medium plus bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? With or without a tube, I don’t care, but I like this cigar.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Perla del Mar Maduro Toro

I got this 6 1/4×54 Toro named G from a Davidoff sales rep, since Davidoff distributes J.C. Newman cigars here in The Netherlands but except for the fact that it’s a Newman brand I knew nothing about the cigar so I went to the Newman website where no information on this cigar is to be found. Then I went to the dedicated Perla del Mar website and again, no information at all. It’s time for Newman to update their web appearance, their websites but also their social media.

 


The websites of the large online retailers gave me enough information though. This cigar is made in Esteli, at the Pensa factory owned by J.C. Newman and it’s the follow up on the Perla del Mar Connecticut Shade cigar that’s been available for a while. The brand is an old Cuban brand and refers to “the pearl of the ocean” which was once Cuba’s nickname. The filler and binder are Nicaraguan wrapped in a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and the cigar has a pretty good price point of less than 7 dollar.

 


When I remove the cellophane I see a beautiful, box pressed, dark cigar that reminds me of a candy bar. Dark chocolate color, slightly dull with a beautiful ring, blue gold and white with an image of an old ship and golden letters on a blue banner. The secondary ring is in the same style and coloring. The cigar feels a little squishy and under packed but the shape is great and the triple cap is very nice. The aroma is strong and a mildly acidic hay and straw smell with some pepper.

 


I punched the cigar for a change. The cold draw is good and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy and peppery coffee. After half an inch I taste some dark chocolate with cedar with some green herbs. After a third I taste the same but now with a mild salt and a growing pepper. Halfway I taste a mild cedar with cocoa and a lot of pepper.

 


The draw is great. The light gray ash is dense, firm and has nice rings. The smoke is white, full and thick. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar lacks a little evolution. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not mind smoking them more often.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA, Perla del Mar | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A. J. Fernandez New World Puro Especial Robusto

Four years ago, in 2014, A.J. Fernandez and his father, who previously spend 17 years at tobacco mogul Plasencia, created the New World line. A few new additions came with a Connecticut shade version, a few single store vitolas, and last year Abdel and his father Ismael created the New World Puro Especial, a Nicaraguan puro with tobacco’s from several tobacco fields owned and cultivated by Fernandez in and around Esteli.


All tobacco is aged between three to five years before being used and picked specifically for this blend. In an interview Fernandez told a little about the blend, saying he picked tobacco from the San Diego fields for the minerals, from the La Soledad farm for the flavor, from the La Providencia farm for the aroma and he picked a Criollo 98 wrapper from the San Jose farm. A.J. gave me this cigar personally when I met him again at the Intertabac trade show last september.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I feel a leathery, which, wrapper. The color is quite dark, like 75% chocolate with a mild oily shine. I also see some veins but that fits with the dark color and make the cigar look intimidating in a good way. The ring is detailed, a white ring with red and gold outlines, a new world painting and a secondary ring in red and gold with the AJ Fernandez name. The cigar has a medium aroma of charred wood and manure. The head of the cigar is well rounded and the cigar feels evenly packed.


I decided to break out the old punch. The cold draw is good, I taste mild spicy tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee, quite spicy. After a quarter of an inch I taste chocolate milk after taking a zip of water. Without drinking water it’s more coffee with cocoa powder, quite dry. After an inch I taste a floral flavor with a tiny bit of chocolate. After a third the cigar has a unique flavor of vegetables and flowers. Halfway the flavor changes to floral leather with a little bit of black pepper. The pepper is slowly getting stronger with a lot of leather and still some of the floral flavor.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like a few more.

Score: 91

number91

Categories: 91, New World, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | 3 Comments

Espinosa Habano Toro

La Zona is quite a new factory but it’s easy to say that I’m a fan. Not only for the great cigars they make, but it’s also a cozy factory downtown Esteli and with the best spot to sit, have a cup of coffee and a cigar on the balcony, overlooking the city with the mountains in the background and just enjoy life. It was one of my highlights of my second trip to Nicaragua, the time that I went for the Cigaragua book.


This is not the time where I bought this 6×52 Espinosa Habano Toro though. I bought it a year earlier when I spend a week in Florida after traveling to Nicaragua. I guess I bought it at one of the Smoke Inn locations or otherwise at the Island Smoke Shop on Key Largo. it’s, as far as I know, Nicaraguan puro with, as the name says, habano wrapper.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I see an oily, smooth, glossy wrapper with thin veins. I love the ring, broken white background, golden details, the Espinosa logo in white on a red background, a light blue banner saying Espinosa and a small white banner ‘hecho en la zona’. The foot ring has the same text but with red letters on a light blue background. The cigar feels evenly packed, is squishy in a good way. The cap is decent but not perfect. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of barnyard with a little black pepper.


I used my xikar cutter, the cold draw is great. The flavor is spicy, some lemon, mild peppery. After lighting I taste a nice coffee, smooth and tasty. After half an inch I taste spices, all spice, very nice. The flavors are smooth. After a third I still taste the spices but now with some vanilla and pepper. The final third is more woody, still with the spices and a bit pepper.


The draw is great. The light gray ash is firm and pretty. The smoke is white, thick and great in volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is smooth, medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I want a box.

Score: 93

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Categories: 93, Espinosa, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Guayacan Habano Corona

Years ago, on one of my yearly vacations to Florida, I was invited to visit Nestor Miranda & Jason Wood, whom I met at several Intertabac trade shows. I dropped by the office and met Barry Stein, a former cigar blogger turned cigar industry professional (like me) as the multimedia guy for Miami Cigar & Co. and we developed a friendship. Barry left the company and decided to re-release his own cigar brand he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co. named Kilo. I read about this on Barry’s Facebook I think March or April of 2015 so I send Barry a message asking him who’s making it. Barry’s reply was “since I haven’t announced it yet, I won’t tell but its made in Esteli” to which I reply “That’s why I’m asking, I’ll be there soon and hopefully I can mooch some as they won’t be available in The Netherlands”. So after promising I wouldn’t disclose the factory before Barry did it himself he said it was Noel Rojas, whom I never heard of by that time but Barry praised him for his blending skills. Barry got me in touch with Noel and after a few calls and text messages we made an appointment in Esteli during my stay there where Noel handed me a bundle of Kilo and Barry asked me to send pictures of the cigars with rings as he had seen the rings and smoked the cigar but never seen them together. Call me a geek, but I think it’s cool to see the finalized product before the brand owner sees it. By the way, by the time you’re reading this: Barry is now working for 2 guys smoke shop and the cigar authority and has sold the Kilo name.


So I meet up with Noel, he shows me his factory Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa, which is now his old factory as he built a new one with his business partner called Tabacalera New Order of the Ages aka NOA, we go to dinner at Restaurant Cohifer in downtown Esteli and we talk about the possibilities for Noel’s brands in The Netherlands and Belgium. Ofcourse I was only an employee so I couldn’t say yes or no there and then, I had to consult with my employer and Noel said he would send us a bunch of samplers. A few weeks later a huge box shows up from the USA and inside I found a few boxes of cigars made by Noel, some Guayacan, some Sabor de Esteli and some test blends just for fun. I had a few to my employer, hand a few to friends and kept a few for myself. Everybody agreed, good cigars, value for money so to cut a long story short: Noel’s brands are now distributed in The Netherlands but unfortunately I don’t work for that employer anymore so I can’t get them at a discounted price. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the Guayacan Habano corona, a 6×42 long cigar made from a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder (’98 Aganorsa Corojo) and Nicaraguan fillers. I promise, later this year I will also review the Guayacan Maduro, Sabor de Esteli, Kilo, Jas Sum Kral and previously I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Maduro that are also made by Tabacalera Noa.


The cigar looks great, long and lean, with a wrapper that is colored like dark oak wood. The ring is colorful, printed on thick paper and not with a straight edge. The edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, which is one of the hardest things to print as I’ve been told by people from Vrijdag Printing in Eindhoven (NL), one of the premier cigar ring printers in the world, 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 construction feels great and you can see that Noel learned the trade in his home country of Cuba, which he fled on a raft in 2007, because of the beautiful triple cap. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong, without the ammonia. Since it’s a smaller ring cigar I decided to cut instead of punch and the pre light draw aka cold draw is great. I taste some cedar and plenty of spice and pepper. I light the cigar with my soft flame and taste a medium strong coffee with a little spice and some pepper in the aftertaste. After two puffs the pepper gets strong but there’s also a bit of sweetness.


After a centimeter I taste some milky chocolate with pepper and a little caramel, it’s mild creamy. Slowly but surely the pepper is replaced with some oak and green spices. Every few puffs I taste the chocolate again. Right before the two third mark I taste some nutmeg too. The chili peppers make a comeback too. The oak is still the base flavor and the flavors are all well balanced. After two thirds there is also a little mixed nuts flavor with a tiny bit of salt. There is a strong peppery flavor on my lips for a while. The nutty flavor is hardly noticeable anymore, oak is back as the base. At the end I taste a mild mint flavor in the aftertaste.


The draw is just simply great, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is medium plus thick and with a decent amount. The ask is salt and pepper colored, it’s quite firm too. The burn is straight, no touch ups. This cigar is medium full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, they are available in the Netherlands now and once I’m out I’ll get some more.

Score: 93

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Categories: 93, Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reserva Miraflor Robusto

Reserva Miraflor, oh, I smoked so many of those cigars in the 2009/10/11 era before they were discontinued, after that I smoked them every now and then, not wanting to burn through all of them too quickly but now they are back so I grabbed the last robusto that I had and decided to review it while I send it to a fiery death.

 


This Nicaraguan puro is related to the Don Fernando, Don Payo and Goviado, all of these cigars were made and blended by the Guillen brothers at their GDW factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and the cigars, especially this brand, gained a lot of momentum on Cigar Asylum. They were spice bombs, lets see what age did to these cigars.

 


The ring is simple and not of the best quality, black and gold, but the wrapper looks good, nice and dark, with a few small yet mean looking veins. The construction feels good, evenly packed, with a nice shape. Just like the Goviado this cigar still has quite some aroma after all these years, its a stable aroma with a little of a floral smell too.

 


I used a butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great, spicy, peppery yet with some marzipan sweetness. After lighting I taste cinnamon, a flavor I love, with a little pepper. After a centimeter the pepper is getting stronger. After a third it mellows out again and near the middle I taste marzipan, pepper, spices and leather. Near the end the cigar is spicy.

 


The draw is amazing, the cigar is smooth and well balanced. The smoke is thick and full. The light colored ash is firm and has nice rings. The burn is great. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The changes between this aged version and a fresh one are incredible and it proves that it’s not just Cuban cigars change with age. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yes. And it’s possible again, a new batch has been made for a new boutique webshop http://www.untoldleaf.com I will be reviewing the new batch soon.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars, Reserva Miraflor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Micallef Herencia

The second cigar that I’m smoking of this brand, I got it at intertabac. And let’s go a little deeper into the brand. Micallef is a cooperation between two families, the Micallef family and the Gomez Sanchez family. The Gomez Sanchez family entered the tobacco industry in 1934 in Cuba when the patriarch of the family started working in a tobacco factory in Pinar del Rio at age 11. He worked for some well known factories like H. Upmann before fleeing Cuba and ending up on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.


His daughter in law, Migdalia Sanchez, also had a background in tobacco and was so knowledgable that Habanos send her to conventions all over the world. She too fled the country and both her and the rest of the family ended up in Mexico where they continued growing tobacco and making cigars until she started a factory in Esteli, Nicaragua too. With her two sons in the company too, this is really a family business with a heritage so it’s perfectly legitimate to create a cigar called herencia. The cigar has a msrp of 13 dollar.


This herencia is only available in a torpedo shape, in two blends, a maduro and a habano and I’m smoking the latter. The wapper is aged Nicaraguan habano with a Sumatra binder from Ecuador and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras. The wrapper looks nice in color but the vein on the top makes the head of the cigar a little rough on the eyes. The ring is the same as on the Esperiencia with the expiation that the greenish blue is now completely blue. The shape is good and the cigar feels evenly filled. The aroma is mild to medium strong and classic barnyard.


Since it’s a torpedo I have not option to cut the cigar, it has to be s flat cut and so happened. The cold draw is good, I don’t taste much, just some dry tobacco. After lighting I taste an unpleasant wood. Some sugar shows up too, but the cigar is getting a little harsh. Halfway I also taste a little pepper. The final third starts with a little cinnamon and wood, but harsh and unpleasant. On my lips I taste pepper.


The draw is fine but the light gray ash has big gaps and isn’t very firm. The ash is thick and full. The burn is good. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar that lacks evolution. The smoke time is short, an hour and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Look at the score and you’ll know the answer.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Red balloons with ribbon – Number 80

 

Categories: 80, Micallef, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Liga Privada #9 Belicoso

I remember getting my first Liga Privada, that was back in 2009 on a road trip along the east coast. We had a herf at every stop and one of the guys in Fayetteville, NC, handed me a Liga Privada and said it was one of his favorite cigars. I saw ‘Drew Estate’ on the ring and said NO! NO! but he persuaded me, said it wasn’t infused and a great stick. I smoked it and loved it, a lot. Although it seems that the flavor and quality changed a little over the years due to different years of crops.


There are only a few pairs of rollers that are allowed to roll these cigars and only in a limited quantity per day. If you have been to the Drew Estate factory you probably have seen them sitting in a room apart from the main factory floor. That room is only used to roll the Liga Privada #9 and T52. The #9 is made out of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, a Brazilian binder and Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The Belicoso is 6×52 sized.


The wrapper looks amazing, dark, oily, leathery, its just a pleasant cigar to look at. The ring is simple yet tasteful, on one side there is the lion shaped Liga logo in silver on a black background while the rest of the ring is off white with gray lettering saying Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and then in a curly, almost hand written, font in black letters Liga Privada #9. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is beautiful with a little flat head on the belicoso shape. The aroma is unique, its like a fence that has been tarred a week ago, you still smell a bit of the tar but it’s not overpowering anymore.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great, spicy and peppery. The first flavors after lighting are coffee and cocoa. After half an inch the cigar is spicy and meaty. The flsvors are dark with a little red pepper. After a third I taste meaty wood with some sweetness, spices and pepper. The cigar taste different than how I remember Liga Privada. A title chocolate shows up too. Halfway the cigar tastes like cedar, herbs and peppery, just like I remember. The final third is cedar, herbs, pepper and carrot. The pepper fases away.


The draw is great and the smoke, I don’t know what Drew Estate is doing to their cigars but they are all smoke bombs, thick, full and white. The dense and firm ash is white as can be. The burn is pretty straight. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have some stashed away

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Avo XO Intermezzo

Avo has been making cigar for decades in cooperation with Davidoff and the cigars are made at the O.K. Factory on the Dominican Republic. I’ve never been a big fan of the Ave cigars and always thought they were a little overpriced due to his ties with Davidoff. The XO line is one of the lines that got revamped by Davidoff in the early 2010’s and is supposed to be one of the milder ones with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper and a binder and filler from the Dominican with a minimum of six years of age to it. Two days ago I posted another Avo review, to celebrate his birthday, today I publish a review to remember him on the day of his death, a year ago.


Coming back to the price, I just checked and for €10 this is quite expensive for a mild robusto. The Intermezzo measures 5 1/2×50. I do like the name of the size as it refers to the musical history of Avo, who passed away earlier this year age 91. I don’t know where I got this cigar, there are no price stickers on the cellophane so I can’t tell if it was bought in the USA, Germany or The Netherlands and no idea if it was a gift of that I bought it. I guess it was a gift because I can’t imagine buying a Connecticut Shade Avo.


The wrapper is dull, it has a few sparkles from minerals but looks a bit like chicken skin. The construction feels good and the head of the cigar is flawless with a pretty cap, great work especially when you know that the O.K. factory doesn’t house the best rollers of Davidoff, the best rollers move on to the Davidoff factory. The ring is pretty, a pale yellow orange with a gold line and a white edge, a silver & black ago logo and black letters Avo and XO on the side. Simple yet elegant. The aroma is quite strong, it reminds me of a barnyard with a lot of hay.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw, which taste a bit like hay and raisin, is a bit on the tight side, still decent but a bit tighter than I like. The first puffs after lighting the cigar are a little lemon and coffee. After a third I taste a little harsh wood with spices and lime. The harshness is making the cigar unpleasant. The flavors don’t change anymore, this is a very one dimensional cigar.


The smoke is on the thin side of medium and medium in volume. The ash is light, dense and firm though. The draw is good and the burn is straight enough not to be corrected but not straight enough to be called great. This cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t even accept a gifted one.

Score: 79
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Categories: 79, Avo, Nicaraguan cigars, Occidental | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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