Casa de Garcia

Altadis, La Romana, Dominican Republic

VegaFina Year of the Ox

VegaFina Year of the Ox. One of the many brands that create a cigar commemorating the Chinese zodiac calendar. And a fitting review for today as the Year of the Ox starts today. VegaFina joined the brands that celebrate Chinese New Year a few years ago. Last year, Ministry of Cigars reviewed the VegaFina Year of the Rat.

This cigar is big, 6¼x56. Just like Davidoff, who started the Chinese zodiac theme cigars, the people behind VegaFina picked a big ring cigar. Maybe because the Ox stands for strength, and because it’s a big animal? The filler comes from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The binder and wrapper are Nicaraguan as well. As the wrapper, a Habano 2000 tobacco was chosen. Tabacalera de Garcia takes care of the production of the cigars.

I received the samples naked due to plain packaging regulations. But we know that the cigars have the normal VegaFina ring and the second ring in red. With an ox and Chinese characters in golden print. The cigar looks impressive, not only due to its size. But also due to a nice, chestnut brown and oily wrapper with a few thin veins. The triple cap is a nice bonus. The cigar feels well constructed, with no soft spots at all. The medium-strong smell is a mixture of hay and a little ammonia.

The cold draw is great. There are raw tobacco and sultana flavors. After lighting, the first puffs are a little harsh. Wood, leather, coffee, and pepper. But after a few puffs, the cigar mellows out. Salty, herbal with leather, soil, and wood. Evilution moves on to a herbal, spicy, and salty milk chocolate. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy, and cedar is noticeable in the retrohale. The flavor then becomes spicy with young, wet leather as the base flavor. There is some sweetness. It comes close to agave syrup, the vegan alternative to honey. The sweetness becomes a little stronger. The cigar then moves to licorice, sweetness, leather, and herbs. A little salt ties it all together. The flavors are balanced, smooth yet bold. There are more leather and pepper starts to show up as well. The final third starts with wood and dark spices. There is plenty of cedar as well, although pepper becomes the dominant flavor at the end.

The draw is fantastic, open yet with the right amount of resistance. The ash is light-colored. The light-colored ash is decent yet not very firm. The burn is quite straight. The smoke is okay, but not too thick and plentiful. The cigar starts medium in body but turns to full later on. The flavor is full. The smoke time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Even though it is a ring gauge too thick for me, yes I will.

Categories: 92, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mustique Red Robusto

Mustique Red Robusto. This is one of the many bundle brands available that never caught the attention of us at the Ministry of Cigars office until about a year ago. A friend gave us a handful of Mustique cigars, both the red label and the blue label. There is not a lot of information online about these cigars, just that Lubinksi is distributing them in Italy. And Kohlhase & Kopp distributes them in Germany.

Apparently, these cigars are 100% long-fillers, but for the price, we truly wonder. Maybe we should cut one open to see. The cigars feature an Ecuadorian wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder. The majority of the filler is Dominican with some Brazilian. What is known is that the cigar hails from the rolling tables of Tabacalera de Garcia. That factory is part of Altadis and it is the largest premium cigar factory on the island. The cigar measures 5×50 but come in several more sizes.

The Colorado-colored wrapper is a bit rough and the triple cap isn’t smooth-looking either. The bright red ring with the white letters is simple, which fits the bundle look of the cigar. The cigar feels a little spongy, slightly under-packed. But evenly spongy, there aren’t any soft or hard spots. The aroma is quite strong and pleasant. It is a barnyard aroma but it has some depth to it.

The cold draw is easy. The flavor from the cold draw is spicy and even a little harsh. Sour milk. Not as horrible as it sounds, but the first puffs have a slightly sour milk taste to them. To offset that flavor, there is pleasant cinnamon. And that makes this cigar Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The mouthfeel is dry and sticky. The flavors slowly evolve to cedar, with pepper and sweetness. And the flavor profile confirms our suspicion that the wrapper is Ecuadorian Connecticut. That classic old book, old library musty and dusty flavor is unmistakably there. The sour milk flavor never goes away. It is lingering in the back and pops up every once in a while. The nice mix of dark spices and pepper counter the flavor, but still, it does not make smoking this cigar a fantastic experience. Then all of a sudden a very dry, old leather flavor shows up. It then turns to hay, grass, with some pepper. There is a little rough edge, but not enough to call the cigar harsh. The sour milk is gone though, and that’s a good thing. The remainder of the cigar gives cedar, spice, pepper, and that Connecticut Shade signature mustiness.

The draw is decent, it could have a little more air resistance. There is enough smoke coming from this cigar. The smoke is gray, not white or blueish as we like it. The ash is silver-gray and reasonably firm. The burn is good. The cigar is medium, both in the body as in flavor. This is a typical “you get what you pay” for cigar. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Quality over quantity. I rather pay three times the amount and smoke something I enjoy, than pay €2.70 for 3 of these so I could smoke more often.

Categories: 79, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, Mustique | Tags: , , ,

VegaFina Fortaleza 2 Andullo

VegaFina Fortaleza 2 Andullo. A limited-edition release from VegaFina. Limited to little less than 5000 boxes of ten cigars. As the name suggests, it’s the second Fortaleza release for the 22-year-old brand. The brand was founded by Tabacalera, which was the Spanish tobacco monopoly. That’s why the brand is strong in Europe and not in the United States.

This cigar is named after a traditional fermentation process in the Dominican Republic. Andullo. That’s when tobacco is rolled up in tubes very tightly. That’s how the tobacco gets fermented. This is different than the regular fermentation using pilones. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra. The rest of the tobaccos are all Dominican, including some Andullo. The same kind of fermentation is practiced in Indonesia under the name Tambolaka. And in the Amazon, CAO Amazon Basin utilizes some of that tobacco.

The cigar is good looking. A nice Colorado colored wrapper, thin yet sharp. The simple matte black ring with the glossy VF logo in red. Add a handwritten font Andullo in white, and you have a contemporary ring. The construction feels good. The cigar has a very pleasant aroma. Hay with chocolate.

The cold draw is flawless. With spices and herbs as flavors. After lighting the cigar releases flavors of grass, dirt, cinnamon with dry leather. Lots of dry leather. Some hay and acidity show up too. Vinegar, and a little too sour. Normally a little acidity brings flavors together, this is just a little too sour. Not much though. The mouthfeel is dry, the acidity works well with the spices. Spices like nutmeg and cumin. And then a peanut flavor shows up. Unusual flavor for cigars, but deniable peanuts. With some white pepper. The acidity is still there, but now in a way that it enhances the flavors instead of overpowering them. The peanut flavor gets stronger, with some spices and pepper. In the final third, it’s peanuts, powdered sugar, and dry leather. It creates a dry mouthfeel. The flavors remain peanuts, sweetness, spicy with some acidity to bind it all together. In the finale, there is an even more unusual flavor. Something that we haven’t discovered in 15 years of cigar smoking. Fried egg. With peanuts, leather, and pepper.

The draw is fine, and the smoke is thick, white, and plentiful. The burn is beautiful. The white ash is firm. The cigar is medium-bodied and reasonably smooth. Although there is some roughness in the second third of the cigar, it’s minor. It’s a medium-full bodied cigar with plenty of flavors. The smoke time is three hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy these again? With such limited stock, that might be impossible.

Categories: 91, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , ,

VegaFina 1998 VF52

VegaFina 1998 VF52. Tabacalera, the Spanish tobacco monopoly, founded VegaFina in 1998. Later Tabacalera merged with the French tobacco monopoly SEITA and formed Altadis. And last year, Altadis released the VegaFina 1998 in three sizes to commemorate the fact. The cigars are available on International markets only, and not in the USA. VegaFina has always focussed more on Europe than on the American market anyway. This blend was created by the master blenders with tobacco from five different countries. All the tobacco is aged for at least three years. The VegaFina 1998 is marketed as a premium offering from VegaFina, yet the prices are mid-range.


The complex blend of the cigar forced the blenders to bring their A-game. A dark Ecuadorian wrapper combined with an Indonesian binder from Java. For those that don’t know Indonesia that well, Java is the most populated of the 16.000 islands that make Indonesia what it is. For the last 400 years, tobacco is cultivated after the Dutch colonists brought tobacco seeds from their travels to the Caribbean. Sumatra, about 3 ½ times bigger than Java, is also a well-known tobacco-growing island. The filler comes from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Colombia. For this review, we selected the 5½x52 VF52


The wrapper is dark and oily. It does not have a smooth appearance, but the darkness and oil make up for it. The ring is different than the current VegaFina offerings. No slick logo with the silver VegaFina uses nowadays. This ring looks older. It’s probably the same design as VegaFina used in 1998. A throwback, going with the theme of commemorating the first VegaFina release. The slick black secondary ring with the white 1998 numbers looks good. The cigar has a nice bounce when gently squeezed. The aroma is mild woody.


The cold draw is great. There isn’t much flavor in the cold draw, just peppery wood, but mild. The cigar starts with coffee, green herbs, salt, and wood. The flavors evolve to coffee, wood, leather, and pepper. The mouthfeel is dry. Softwood pepper, spices, coffee, and earthiness. More pepper and some grassy flavors show up, and the cigar tastes a little burned. Halfway there is a mixture of green herbs, pepper, and nuts. The final third has wood, soil, and pepper. For a while, there was some faint vanilla flavor as well. The finale is earthy with pepper, wood, and sweetness.


The draw is a bit on the loose side, yet still acceptable. The ash is frayed. The burn had to be corrected a few times. The smoke is good. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. It’s not smooth and the balance is a little off as well. The smoke time is two hours thirty-five.

Would I buy this cigar again? Meh

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Categories: 89, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , ,

VegaFina Year of the Rat Toro

VegaFina Year of the Rat Toro. In the last few years, more and more cigar brands are using the Chinese Zodiac Calendar as a reason to release a limited edition cigar. VegaFina is one of those brands. The Dominican cigars started releasing cigars for the Year Of series with the Year of the Dog. After the Year of the Pig, it’s time for the Year of the Rat. Altadis is part of Imperial Brands, although not for long anymore. Imperial Brands is selling its premium cigar division, which includes the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic, their portfolio of brands and their 50% stake in Habanos. According to rumors, a Chinese company acquired the premium cigar division yet by the time of writing this review, nothing has been confirmed.

The cigar measures 5⁹⁄₁₀x52 and it comes with a pigtail. The cigar is made in the Dominican Republic, at Altadis’s Tabacalera de Garcia. Tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic are used for the filler. The binder comes from Nicaragua. Altadis did not reveal from which country the wrapper came. But they did mention it’s a Habano 2000 wrapper.

The cigar looks good. A nice Colorado colored wrapper, oily and smooth. There is one thin, yet very noticeable vein on the back. The regular silver and white ring is used, with the glossy metallic red VegaFina logo. Then there is a secondary ring, red with gold, which represents prosperity and wealth in the Chinese culture. The ring says ‘year of the rat’ and a rat is pictured on the ring as well. The cigar feels a bit hard. The foot of the cigar is cut in a slight angle, making the cigar a leaning tower of Pisa. Now even though that’s an imperfection, we have seen it before with several different brands. The aroma is that of manure and oak. It’s medium-strong.

 

Even though the cigar felt a bit hard, the cold draw is fine. With a flavor of spicy raisins. Once lit, the cigar releases a lot of sweetness, sugar water sweetness. With pepper, green herbs and some coffee. Slowly the cigar gets wood in the flavor palate too. The flavor evolves to nutty toast with soil, leather, pepper, and sweetness. These flavors continue through the first third, with a nice sweet and white pepper aftertaste. The mouthfeel is buttery, creamy. The pepper is very mild and distinct. Halfway the pepper gets more pronounced and a little stronger. The sweetness turns into milk chocolate. The final third is sweet and peppery, with leather, wood, milk chocolate, and grass.

 

The draw is great. And the ash is firm, dense, and white as can be. The smoke is thin too and lacks a bit in volume as well. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. The balance of this cigar is spot on. This cigar would be a good match with a nice smooth sipping rum.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Categories: 91, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , , ,

VegaFino Exclusivo Benelux 2018

VegaFina is a brand made at Casa de Garcia on the Dominican Republic. And Casa de Garcia is the largest cigar factory in the country. It’s part of Altadis. And Altadis is part of Imperial Brands. But for how long is the question. Imperial Brands is trying to sell their premium cigar division. That includes their Dominican cigar factory but also their stake in Habanos. And the shares in several Habanos distributors worldwide.


Habanos was probably the inspiration for this Exclusivo Benelux. Habanos has been releasing regional editions for over a decade. This is the first time VegaFina released a regional edition for the Benelux. Probably hoping to mimic the success of the Cuban regional editions. For that, they blended a 6×56 cigar. The filler is from the Dominican and the United States. The binder is from the Dominican. As a wrapper, they used Mexican Criollo.

The cigar has a nice Colorado Claro colored wrapper. The veins are thin and pretty. Where the regular VegaFina ring has a brushed silver color, the designers picked a shiny silver for the secondary ring. That makes the rings look odd. The Benelux flag design is a nice addition to the additional ring. The construction feels good. The aroma is mild, with a wooden nose. The secondary ring is not glued straight, it’s not correct on the detail level.

The cold draw is good. It tastes spicy with a strong raw tobacco flavor. Stronger than expected from a brand that is known for milder cigars. After lighting, I taste a very mild nutty flavor with some citrus. The flavors are very mild. Coffee, leather, citrus and some sweetness. The cigar is boring with little flavor and no evolution in the first third. After a third, I taste some pepper, wood and a hint of chocolate. And there is still a little acidity left. It then picks up in strength a little, with young, fresh wood and some sugar. But it remains mild. Halfway the cigar turns medium bodied with wood, nuts, minty freshness, and pepper. The wood turns a little charred. In the final third, leather makes a comeback.

The burn was crooked but corrected itself. The ash is whiter than white. The smoke is poor, in volume and thickness. The cigar starts very mildly, then slowly grows to medium-full. Both in flavor and strength. The smoke time is two hours and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope

number87

Categories: 87, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , ,

VegaFina Sumum 2013

VegaFina, a brand owned by Altadis and made on the Dominican Republic at Casa de Garcia. Now I did smoke a few of the regular VegaFina cigars and was totally unimpressed by those mild and boring Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars that had nothing to offer for me so when someone handed me this 6×55 Sumum 2013 limited edition it ended up in my humidor as I steered away from it just because of the brand name. But now that I’m smoking from my humidor, assorted box by assorted box, for review purposes I ended up with this VegaFina Sumum 2013 as one of the last cigars from the box I wanted to be empty. So here it goes.


While googling the cigar for some information I read something that sparked my interest, the wrapper of the cigar is Cameroon and that is probably my favorite wrapper on the market. I just love the spiciness of it. The binder comes from Nicaragua and the filler is from both Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. Only 20.000 of these cigars were made, 2000 boxes of 10 cigars, so on hindsight it was a very nice gift that I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. I’m sorry for that.


The cigar has a medium brown wrapper with very fine tooth and a few veins. Like all Cameroon wrappers it is quite thin. The construction feels good but the head isn’t perfectly round and the cap is a bit sloppy. The aroma is quite strong and all I can say is: manure. The cigar has two rings and they don’t match, the main ring is silver gray with a black lane and gray letters on the side. The front has a black circle with VegaFina logo in silver. The second rind has the same gray outlines with a black line added but the rest of the ring is a dark orange with black letters and doesn’t fit the main ring. The print quality is high though.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is fine without a real flavor. After lighting I taste coffee with some pepper and sugar. After half an inch I taste a nice mild nutty flavor with spices and a faint vanilla. After an inch I taste the herbal spice that the Cameroon wrapper is known for with some wood. Halfway it’s cedar with a lot of pepper. The final third starts with nuts and pepper.


The draw is is great. The ash is amazing, light colored and very dense, also firm. The smoke is medium thick, could be thicker. The draw is fantastic. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, even a Cameroon wrapper can save a VegaFina.

Score: 87
number87

Categories: 87, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , , ,

VegaFina belicoso

These cigars, made by Tabacalera de Garcia for Altadis, are new on the Dutch market and are the only non Cuban cigar imported by Cubacigar Benelux. A friend gave me this cigar to try, normally I wouldn’t have bought it due to the Connecticut shade wrapper, I don’t like Connecticut. The filler is a blend of Colombian, Honduran and Dominican tobacco and the cigar has an Indonesian binder. This torpedo I smoked measures 6×50.
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The cigar feels a bit soft but consistent soft all over the cigar. The light colored wrapper isn’t oily and I see a few thin veins. The cigar hardly has any smell. The predraw is tight and I taste some pepper with tobacco. I do dig the simple yet elegant band.
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I instantly taste the musty Connecticut shade taste and some soft wood. After half an inch I taste musty wood with some chocolate. The chocolate disappears again after a third, when the flavors are dry, mild musty. The main flavor is sweet wood.
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Halfway I taste some chocolate again, but only in the aftertaste, with some cumin but that could be because I ate some cumin at my dinner. After two thirds I taste nuts with some salt. I think I recognize cashew nuts with herbs and wood. There is pepper in the aftertaste.
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This cigar lasted me an hour and a half. The draw was hard and probably because of that tight draw I didn’t get a lot of smoke. The silver gray ash is pretty and firm. The burn is good. This cigar is mild to medium flavored and mild bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s not a bad cigar but it has two downsides, it’s too mild for me and again, I don’t like Connecticut.

Appearance: 8 / 10
Construction: 7 / 10
Draw: 6 / 10
Burn: 7 / 10
Smoke & ash: 8 / 10
Aroma first part: 7 / 10
Aroma second part: 7 / 10
Aroma third part: 8 / 10

Categories: Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: ,

Montecristo white label rothschild

This 5 x 52 Rothschild comes in a cellophane wrapper and once released I see a nice looking cigar with a light but smooth wrapper which doesn’t contain a lot of veins. Due to the color of the wrapper I think it’s a shade grown wrapper. The aroma is peppery with some wood and hints of a barnyard. The cigar feels well constructed although the fire side is a bit softer than the rest of the cigar. The predraw is on the easy side and leaves me with a light flavor of raisin on the lips.
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I could taste some cedar wood, not bad but I had better. My mouth goes dry due to the texture of the smoke. After an inch the texture becomes a bit buttery but flavorwise it’s still the same cedar, although the flavor becomes a bit more appealing to me after 1/3rd. The flavor doesn’t change at all, until I get close to the turning point, where I discovered some nut flavors.
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The amount of smoke is on the low side, but because of the firm ashes the smoke & ash still gets a 7 out of 10. The draw is on the light side of ok and the burn is fine. Medium to mild bodied, mild flavored.
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Would I buy this cigar again? No, I don’t care much for this cigar.
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Appearance: 7 / 10
Construction: 7 / 10
Draw: 7 / 10
Burn: 8 / 10
Smoke & ash: 7 / 10
Aroma first part: 6 / 10
Aroma second part: 6 / 10
Aroma third part: 6 / 10

Categories: Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, Montecristo | Tags:

Don Diego robusto

I got this cigar in Antwerp last summer and I know I didn’t buy it because this 5 x 50 robusto because of the looks. The wrapper is pale and has lots of veins and spots. The construction feels good though and the cigar smells a bit like straw, but the aroma is very mild.
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I get a full flavored taste of dry wood, a bit metallic after lighting the cigar, but fortunately the metallic flavor disappears soon. The smoke is cool and creamy. I also get a little chocolate. At 1/3rd I taste hay with some spices. The aftertaste is a sticky chocolate. The spices grow stronger and the chocolate aftertaste is combined with some mint. Some wood accompanies the flavors at 2/3rd and soon the cigar gives a burning sensation on the tongue.
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The draw is too easy with plenty smoke. The ash is light colored, straight and firm with a great burn. This cigar is mild bodied, mild to medium flavored.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I don’t think so.

Appearance: 6 /10
Construction: 7 / 10
Draw: 6 / 10
Burn: 8 / 10
Smoke & ash: 7 / 10
Aroma first part: 7 / 10
Aroma second part: 6 / 10
Aroma third part: 5 / 10

Categories: Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, Don Diego | Tags: ,

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