Tabacalera La Alianza

E.P. Carrillo

Headley Grange Drumstick

When STG bought the independent brand CAO and incorporated it into the General Cigars portfolio one of the things that changed was the base of operations. CAO was always based in Nashville, Tennessee but after the take-over the brand had to move to the General Cigars offices in Virginia. A few of CAO executives, including Jon Huber and Gary Hyams, decided against the move and promised to take care of the Tennessee employees, thus they started a new company, Crowned Heads.


Their first release was named after a Kings of Leon song that they would make a reference to their second release as well, calling it Headley Grange, a famous music studio where a lot of great artists recorded. And they took one of those songs, when the levee breaks by Led Zeppelin as inspiration, especially the pounding drum in the intro. So in 2012 they released this cigar, made at the La Alianza factory of E.P. Carrillo with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder and the line up included this limited edition lancero aka drumstick.


The wrapper is quite rustic, it has a nice, deep brown without being very dark. It’s almost like a piece of cinnamon. The simple ring is stylish, black with golden outlines and clear white letter saying the brand name and smaller, golden, letters Republica Dominicana. The printing quality is good too. The construction feels great, the head of the cigar is amazing, a slightly raised tip yet not enough to speak of a torpedo shape head. The aroma is mild and reminds me of milk chocolate.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is a little tight. The cold draw taste is quite spicy and peppery. The flavor I get after lighting is a strong and peppery coffee. After a few puffs I taste a sweet cinnamon instead of the peppery coffee. Then the flavors change to herbal flavors with a citrus acidity. And before the first third is over the flavors change again to dry cedar with lime. After a third I taste a milky chocolate with lemon. After this the cigar mellows out, cedar with herbs, spices and sweetness with subtle changes in strength. Ever few puffs I taste some pepper too. In the final third I also taste some nuts.


The draw is good. The ash is white. The smoke is ok, not thick, not thin, volume just enough. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Headley Grange, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

E.P. Carrillo La Historia Regalias d’Celia

When the news broke that legendary cigar maker Ernesto Perez Carrillo ended his 10 years contract at Swedish Match, a contract he signed as part of the sale of his La Gloria Cuban and El Credito brands to General Cigars, to start his own company again the cigar geek in me was enthousiastic, I mean, a legend starting up a new company? That could only be good news right? But then I smoked the so highly anticipated Inaugural and for me that was a let down. Not that it was a bad cigar, but it just didn’t do anything for me. And I smoked more cigars that were just middle of the road to me, not bad but not my kind of cigar.


A few years later my then employer, the biggest independent cigar importer & distributer of The Netherlands, said he had reached an agreement with Ernesto do distribute his cigars in the country so we carried a few lines and especially the inch sold, but that didn’t make up for the stupid international sales president Carrillo had at the time that completely destroyed the relationship and resulted into my boss dropping Carrillo. So the brand fell a bit of my radar, I noticed that the La Historia got a lot of praise but that’s it. But smoking the Viking earlier this year made me want to try this cigar and the German distributor helped me out.


So I got this 5⅞x58 cigar made from Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, Sumatra from Ecuador as a binder with a Mexican San Andres wrapper. The cigar looks huge, even bigger than it is because its box pressed with a dark, little marbles wrapper that looks intimidating. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of manure and urine drenched staw. The construction feels good but the wrapper had a weird wrinkle at the head of the cigar. The rings are beautiful though, first there is a bright blue cloth ring to protect the foot of the cigar, then a small red ring with decorative golden linings and golden letters Perez Carrillo and to top it off there is a big ring with the same golden lining, a red square on a golden throne that says Perez Carrillo la historia and the blue returns as the sky. Beautiful design and great print quality.


Due to the size I had to cut the cigar with my guillotine cutter. The cold draw is great and I taste a little toast with some pepper on my lips. As usual I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste spicy coffee with leather. After a centimeter I taste cocoa powder with spices. After a third it’s more of nutmeg with toast and pepper. Slowly the pepper picks up and after two thirds i taste wood with a little lime and pepper. Near the end I taste some nuts too.


The smoke is medium plus thick and medium in volume. The draw is fantastic. The burn is a little off. The gray ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not this vitola but I’d like to try a smaller ring version.

Score: 87
87

Categories: 87, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , ,

E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic

I have met Ernesto Perez Carrillo a few times, both at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund and once in Nicaragua where we ran into him at the A.J. Fernandez factory while interviewing A.J. and taking pictures for the Cigaragua book. Ernesto came walking in with Gilberto Oliva, so there was a lot of tobacco knowledge on a few square meters there. And last september at the Intertabac trade show I walked passed the booth, Ernesto called me in and said “I would like you to try this cigar” and handed me this Encore.


Now when I see that the encore is a Nicaraguan puro, even though its made on the Dominican Republic, I think “maybe I ran into him when he was buying tobacco for this line”, I mean, he was with Gilberto Oliva, Angel from ASP and came to visit A.J. Fernandez and those are three tobacco growers. But I could be wrong. The cigar comes in four vitolas and I smoked the 5 3/8×52 Majestic.


The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane and has a cloth band to protect the foot of the cigar. When I release the cigar from the cellophane I notice that it’s slightly box pressed. The cigar has a double ring, a secondary ring in brown with copper colored, dry detailed outlines and white letters saying Perez Carrillo and then a main ring in the same brown with the same copper detailed outlines, different shades of brown and white to detail the ring and the Perez Carrillo logo in the center with encore in white letters. The ring fits perfect with the dark, little rough but oily wapper. The cigar feels evenly packed, the shape is good, the cap is good. And the aroma is great, freshly baked whole grain bread and bell peppers, with a little manure.


I cut the cigar for a very loose cold draw, which tastes mild spicy. After lighting I taste a dry and strong espresso, bitter in a positive way. After a third I taste cedar with a faint cocoa, slightly bitter and harsh. The flavors don’t change after, except for a little pepper at the end.


The smoke is amazing, thick, white, full and a lot of it. The draw is a little loose. The ash is light gray with black stripes. The burn is straight. The evolution lacks a little. I would call it medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like to try one with a draw that is less loose, I expect that the flavors are more refined then due to a lower combustion temperature and it will also lead to a longer smoke duration.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , ,

Viking Viking Churchill

Last year I reviewed the Viking Robusto, a Dominican made cigar for a Norwegian cigar aficionado and I loved it, it scored high with a 93 final score. It was a huge step up from the cigars Hawk used to have made by Cabreras, those never scored so high and it was also the best rated E.P. Carrillo cigar for me up to that date, so a double win.


Last september I talked with Hawk and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few more cigars to review including this 7×54 Churchill. The Viking Viking blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper from the USA, a Sumatra binder from Ecuador and aged Habano filler from three different Nicaraguan regions, Condega, Esteli and Jalapa.


The dark wrapper is rough and looks intimidating, like a real viking should and the tin cigar ring with the viking logo enhances that intimidating look, I love it. The construction feels good, the cigar is well shaped. The aroma is deep and dark, fitting with the look, like old manure on an open piece deep inside a dark and scary forest.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste some herbs and sultanas. After lighting I taste sugar with some coffee. After an inch I taste a sweet floral flavor with herbs and wood. After a third I taste wood, herbs, vanilla and chocolate. There is a mild pepper in the aftertaste. The final third starts dry, with dry wood, a little hint of vanilla and pepper. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end I taste pepper, some mild floral flavors and meaty wood.


The draw is great. The white ash is white and dense. The light and thin smoke is low in volume. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , ,

Viking Norseman Toro

I have reviewed two of the three Viking blends, the Viking and the Nordic Warrior and both ended up in my top 25 of 2017 so my expectations for the third blend are high, yet on the other hand, it is a Connecticut shade wrapper so that might be the downside of smoking this cigar. The cigar is made with Ecuadorian Connecticut, Nicaraguan Habano and Dominican Piloto as filler, a Connecticut Broadleaf from the USA as binder and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade as wrapper.

 


Ernesto Perez Carrillo and his La Allianzia factory are responsible for the production of this Norwegian owned brand, that honors the sea dwelling Vikings with this Norseman blend. The seas were a dangerous place with the small Viking ships so these Norseman had to be extremely brave.

 


I love the ring on any of the viking cigars, metal rings, a tin alloy and this one is black & golden with a norseman face. The cigar itself looks great too, a medium brown wrapper with a shaggy  foot that shows off the broadleaf binder. The contrast between the Connecticut Shade and the Broadleaf is huge and it makes the cigar look even tastier. The shape is flawless, the head perfectly round. This cigar is well made. The aroma is strong and reminds me of wood and vegetable stock.

 


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is a little open. I taste pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee with some sweetness and a nice citrus acidity to balance it all out. After half and inch I taste spicy and peppery dry cedar. Then I taste a growing white pepper flavor. There is a very mild Connecticut Shade mustiness but much minder than other Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars. Halfway I taste sweet and slightly musty cedar with white pepper in the aftertaste.

 


The draw is a bit loose, the ash quite dark and frayed. The smoke is thick, white and full. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored with a smoke time of an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the other Viking cigars better because of the wrapper.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill

Years ago, I’m guessing five or six years ago I met Hawk, a Norwegian gentleman with his own Dominican cigar brands, Hawk and Amero, made by Willis Cabreras, who briefly had his own brand before he had to close his factory down. I tried some of the cigars, they weren’t for my palate but you can’t like them all can you? Then all of a sudden, three years ago, no Amero/Hawk booth at intertabac, just like two years ago. No mentions of the brand anymore so I thought Hawk gave up.


Last year, tucked away in a corner of hall 4 at the Intertabac trade show I saw Hawk, he was busy but his German distributer told me that they parted ways with Willis and teamed up with the legendary Ernesto Perez Carrillo for a new brand, Viking, honoring the history of Hawk’s fatherland. And I smoked the Viking Viking robusto which amazed me, I really liked that cigar. This year I had the pleasure to talk to Hawk again and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few cigars, the Viking Viking but also the two blends I hadn’t tried yet, the Norseman and the Nordic Warrior, which I am reviewing now.


This 7×54 Churchill is made with Nicaraguan binder and filler and a smooth Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador that feels like velvet to the touch. The color is mocha and the ring is amazing. Its a metal alloy folded around the cigar and its in the shape of a viking with a classic viking helmet. The metal is gold colored with black letters and details. Absolutely unique and a nice touch. The cigar feels well made and the little pigtail on top is always nice to see. The aroma is strong and very spicy and herbal like, cilantro, parsley, those kinds of aromas.


Because of the pig tail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is surprisingly easy for a Churchill and quite peppery. I lit the cigar with a vintage soft flame, I taste a full coffee with nutmeg and spices. After a centimeter I taste lemon with soft wood and five spice, balanced and smooth. I even retrohale without a burning sensation in my nose. After a third I taste pepper, herbs and wood, all balanced. Slowly the pepper tones down a little, the wood gets a little stronger. Halfway it’s just wood with herbs like nasturtium, spicy and full of flavor. The final third sees the return of the pepper. With an inch and a half to go I also taste some floral notes, with the wood, herbs and pepper.


The draw is great resulting in a full, thick, white smoke. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they become available in The Netherlands soon, I love this cigar.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , ,

Viking Viking Robusto

A few years back I met a Norwegian guy, nickname Hawk, at the Intertabac trade show who had his own brands of cigars named Chess, Hawk and Amero. These cigars were Dominican made and for some reason his factory manager in the Dominican Willis Cabrera added me to Facebook. Now the last 2 years I didn’t see the owner of the brand Hawk at the show, neither did I see a booth and Willis disappeared from my Facebook friend list too, why I don’t know. Much to my surprise I saw Hawk again this year, not with Chess cigars but with a new brand: Viking Cigar. Now Hawk was busy so we didn’t have time to chat but I did get a cigar to try from his German distributer who told me all the Viking Cigar lines were made by the legendary Ernesto Perez Carrillo, who at that exact moment dropped by the booth.


I went to the Viking website to see which line of cigars I got, to get some details for this review but much to my surprise I couldn’t find details of the blend, just a story about Leiv Ericsson, a legendary viking around the year 1000 and according to the saga he discovered America almost half a century before Columbus did. I also googled Willis Cabrera and discovered he now has his own brand of cigars too but thats something for another day. What I did get from the website was that I got a sample of the Viking line, one of the three lines they have, the others are Norseman and Nordic Warrior. On the Viking Facebook page I found a short video where Ernesto explains a little about the cigar, it contains Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers with a USA broadleaf wrapper.


The first thing that you notice, except for the beautiful dark, thick, oily wrapper, which feels quite leathery, is the beautiful ring. Now its not a ring of paper but its made of tinplate, which makes it quite unique. The design has a viking helmet, the word Norway is on top and Dominican Republic is printed at the bottom. The band is just awesome and the coolest novelty i’ve seen at the Intertabac trade show this year. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, not too strong and quite pleasant. The construction feels good, the cigar seems evenly filled.


After i cut the cigar with the xikar xi2 I get a good cold draw with some pepper on my lips. The cigar tastes sweet with some coffee and earthy tones right after I lit it with a soft flame. The sweetness reminds me a lot of caramel, and it pushes the coffee completely away, I still taste some pepper on the background though. After an inch I taste more of an earthy flavor with some spices while the caramel just tones it down a little. After a third i feel the cigar in the back of my throat but that feeling disappears quickly too. After that I taste toast but still with a great caramel flavor. Slowly but surely I feel a nice pepper in the aftertaste with a little bit of earthy notes. The caramel slowly loses part of its strength while the pepper and spice slowly gains a little strength without becoming overpowering. At the end I taste a nice mixture of nuts, caramel and spices, so nice I grabbed my nub tool to enjoy every last puff.


The smoke is medium thick but I get plenty of it. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The burn needed to be corrected once. The cigar is medium plus bodied but full of flavor, the balance is great. The draw is flawless. The smoke time is about an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this might be the best cigar from the Perez Carrillo factory I’ve smoked so far.

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , ,

E.P. Carrillo inaugural 2009

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo once owned of the non Cuban La Gloria Cubana, now part of the General Cigar family and not too long ago he parted from General Cigars to start his own business. The first cigar for his new company was the E.P. Carrillo inaugural 2009 and I was really looking forward to this cigar, that was given to me by an American friend. I read some raving reviews about the cigar and my curiosity grew with every review or mention of this 5⅜x52 cigar. The cigar had a limited production of 150,000 cigars and is made from Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, a double binder, one from Nicaragua, the other from the Dominican republic and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.
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I love the double band, for some reason I like double bands on cigars. The cigar has a mild barnyard smell. The chocolate brown wrapper is mild oily and has a few thin but long veins. I feel some soft spots in the construction but yet the predraw is a bit hard and quite spicy.
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I taste wood, a bit spicy but also musty. The wrapper doesn’t look like it’s Connecticut, but it tastes like it. A quick look on the E.P. Carrillo website tells me that the wrapper is Habano so I was wrong there. After an inch I taste leather with a little pepper and the flavors are still musty. In the aftertaste is discover a little bit of chocolate.
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The cigar gets a little spicier after a third. After that there is hardly no development in the flavor department. The cigar reaches an early turning point, I have to toss it after two thirds.
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I smoked the cigar for an hour and fifteen minutes before I tossed it. I got a decent amount of smoke which was not thick enough. The pepper and salt colored ash (more salt than pepper) is firm. The burn and draw are good. The cigar is medium flavored and medium to full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Even if it was possible, I wouldn’t.

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

Categories: Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: ,

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