Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua

Plasencia, Esteli, Nicaragua

Hiram & Solomon Shriner Robusto

Hiram & Solomon Shriner Robusto. One of the seven blends available within the Hiram & Solomon portfolio but the only one without the Freemason logo. The recipe is the same though. Made in Nicaragua, blended by Fouad Kashouty and George Dakrat with the help of David Blanco. And produced at the renowned Plasencia Cigars factory in Esteli. And as true freemasons, Hiram & Solomon donate parts of the proceeds of the cigars to charity. The brand started as a fundraiser. The idea was to create a one-off cigar for an event, but the cigars became so popular that it resulted in one of the fastest-growing family-owned cigar brands on the market nowadays.

The size of the cigar caused some confusion. The sticker on the cellophane mentions 5×52. That is also mentioned in the vitola list on the website, yet, at the pictures of the cigars, another size is mentioned. 5½x50 instead of 5×52. Cigar nerds as we are, we grabbed our Herics cigar measuring tape to see which information is correct. The cigar measures 5×52. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra. The binder comes from Indonesia, maybe even the real Sumatra but the specifics have not been disclosed. To make this a five-country blend cigar, fillers from Brazil, Dominican Republic, and two tobaccos from Nicaragua were selected.

The Colorado colored wrapper has a water spot. Quite a large one. But that doesn’t matter and it would be unfair to deduct points. Why? Because we have a few more of these that don’t have ugly spots. Cigars are a natural product, and a water spot can happen. It doesn’t alter the flavor, it is just aesthetically not the best look. The ring, compared to the other Hiram & Solomon cigars, this is lacking the Freemason logo. But the sword and the crest probably have a meaning in the Masonic world. The maroon colored ring is decent yet pale in comparison to the other Hiram & Solomon rings. The wrapper is silky without veins and has some tooth. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong, barnyard, and hay.

The cold draw is fine, with a dry raw tobacco and raisin flavor. Sweetness with spices, coffee, and earthiness are released from the first puff on. With some red pepper. The flavor has hints of straw and hay, but with some sweetness, spice, and earthiness. There is a little cinnamon in the retrohale, with cedar. After an inch, there is a salty flavor, with honey sweetness, hay, and some slight white pepper. After a third, the flavor turns to sweet, young wood with milk chocolate. The cigar keeps giving that slight woody flavor with sweetness, spice, milk chocolate but now with some leather as well. The sweetness turns to marzipan. Add in a little nuttiness, gingerbread spices, and some white pepper and you have the start of the final third. The last few puffs, nut flavors are strong.

The draw is good and the burn is straight. The ash is quite firm even though it’s frayed. The smoke is white, reasonably thick and the volume is good too. It’s a smooth cigar, no rough edges. But at the same time, it’s lacking some character, it’s pretty middle of the road. Perfect for a cup of coffee late morning. The cigar is smooth, medium-bodied, and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I will pick the Hiram & Solomon Fellow Craft over this.

Categories: 90, Hiram & Solomon, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Blanco Above & Beyond Unwilling

Blanco Above & Beyond Unwilling. David Blanco, the CEO of Blanco Cigars, has a background in the military. Just as his father. And that background prompted them to create a cigar for the heroes that sacrificed all. For those that paid the ultimate price. Not just in the armed forces, but also in the civil service. As a former deputy sheriff and Chicago Fire Department paramedic, David Blanco knows first hand about those sacrifices. On top of his civil service, he served close to 30 years in the American Army. Both in active duty, National Guard and Reservist. He served 18 months in the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom which brought him to Afghanistan. And at the same time, his father was serving in Iraq. Currently, Blanco is still an active jumpmaster for the United States Army Reserve. He joins veterans at World War II memorial jumps over Europe every chance he gets.


The Blanco Above and Beyond cigars honor those heroes. Part of the proceeds of the cigars goes to charities that help families of fallen service members, or survivors of tragedies while serving. And the cigars represent that. When a service member gets killed, the family members get an American flag, neatly folded into a triangle. All for sizes of the Above & Beyond are torpedos so that the head of the cigars can get a triangle-shaped blue ring with white stars. That resembles the American flag that the family members of fallen servicemen and women get. The cigar itself is a rebranded classic from Blanco Cigars, the American Legion cigar. The wrapper comes from Nicaragua. It’s a Rosado Habano wrapper. The binder is Honduran. The fillers come from both Nicaragua and Honduras.


The cigar has a beautiful reddish-brown wrapper. The point of the torpedo is extremely pointy and sharp for a cigar, The black and silver ring has the American flag. The Blanco name is written in the colors of the fire brigade, police and paramedics. Their logos are on the back of the ring as well. There is a text printed as well, probably the pledge of alliance but since we are not American, we don’t know for sure. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong. Wood, horses and a little ammonia comes to mind. After a third, it’s pepper, toast, spices, sweetness but now with wood as well. The mouthfeel is quite dry.


The cold draw is loose. The pre-draw is a little dry, with nutmeg and slightly wet hay. But those flavors are faint. Once lit, there is a bitter grassy flavor with spices and pepper. Not unpleasant, but quite unrefined. Soon, the cigar gets more balanced and the flavors get more rounded. The nutmeg and spices start to shine through. When some sweetness shows up, the bitterness fades away. After half a centimeter, the cigar has a sweet toasted flavor, with cinnamon and pepper. Halfway the cigar has a salty, licorice flavor with toast, spices, and pepper. The cinnamon-like sweetness returns, with wood, salt, licorice, and toast. The licorice flavor remains strong, with spices, wood, and pepper.


The smoke is thick and plentiful. The draw is good. The burn is a little off but doesn’t have to be corrected. The cigar is medium to medium full-bodied. The flavors are medium-full as well, with enough evolution to keep the cigar interesting all the way. The smoke time is two hours fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, once in a while

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Categories: 90, Blanco Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , ,

El Piño Blanco Corojo Robusto

Last year, Dutch tobacconist Mariska Kelch from Tabakado in Eindhoven, started her own brand. The brand is called El Piño Blanco and is made in Nicaragua. The brand is created in a collaboration with David Blanco from Blanco Cigars. Plasencia, related to Blanco by blood, is responsible for producing the cigars. They come in two lines, Maduro and Corojo.


I smoked this €5,50 robusto in the Maduro version and that was a nice, enjoyable budget cigar. I had the Corojo version too, so I wanted to see if that was just as nice of a budget cigar. Both lines come in three sizes, I do have the other vitolas but I’m not sure if I will smoke these or hand them out to other reviewers to give Mariska and the brand more airplay.

The wrapper looks nice, not too oily but certainly not dry. A single cap, with some pimples. A simple yet clean cigar ring, good quality print. I can see a few thin veins on the cigar, all rolled flat to give the cigar a nice, smooth look. The construction feels good. The aroma of the cigar is darker than expected, it’s a deep barnyard, swamp and forest smell.

The cold draw is good and has a spicy, raw tobacco flavor. Right from the get-go, I taste espresso with pepper and sugar. Cane sugar to be precise. After a few puffs, I also taste cedar and mushrooms. After half a centimeter I taste a musty flavor, with mushrooms. The sweetness and the coffee disappeared. The spice is still there though. The worst mustiness disappears, yet the flavor lingers around on the background. I now taste some saltiness with cedar and green herbs. After a third, I taste a dry cedar with some mild pepper and low-grade milk chocolate. The mustiness and mushrooms are getting stronger again. In the final third, cedar and sweetness return. The sweetness becomes the main flavor, with grass and green, spicy herbs as support. The pepper is growing in strength in the last inch as well.

Blna
The ash is white, strong and firm. The smoke is decent, quite full and thick. The burn is pretty straight. Evolution is decent. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is one hour and forty minutes

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I would not, I stick to the Maduro

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Categories: 87, El Piño Blanco, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

El Piño Blanco Maduro Robusto

This cigar is only available in The Netherlands, and as far as I know, only in one shop: Tabakado in the city of Eindhoven. And that’s because the cigar is blended by the owner of the shop, Mariska Kelch. I have known Mariska for years, when I started visiting the shop as a sales rep, her father was in charge but he was grooming Mariska to be the chief of the shop and she’s doing great. I saw her progress from just a daughter and employee to a shot caller and I am amazed by her progress.

When the duo met David Blanco, they started talking about creating their own cigar. That resulted in the El Piño Blanco line. Unfortunately, Johan Kelch was not around to see the final product as he suddenly and tragically passed away three years ago, but I know he would be very pleased and very proud of Mariska’s achievements. And while smoking this cigar, I had to think of Johan a lot. He was one of my best accounts, one with a manual though and our conversations always had the same pattern, first Johan would complain about something, then we would have a hard but fair argument before we would do business. Good business, and even though the discussions were hard and heated, we had the utmost respect for each other and liked each other a lot. Johan was also the first retailer to call me and wish me luck on my future path after me and my employer parted ways. I hate that I will never get another chance to smoke a cigar with him.

The cigar looks very nice, the shape is perfect with a well-rounded head, triple cap. I have a feeling that the wrapper is cooked through, in a slurry of tobacco, to make it look darker. When I wet my finger and rub the cigar, my fingers will taint and you can see a lighter shade under dark spots. Now that doesn’t have to mean anything and could be just for aesthetic reasons. And honestly, the cigar looks great. The simple black, green and white ring is clean, the brand name is clear, the tobacco leaf on the ring looks nice. The cigar has a nice touch, I can’t feel any plugs. The smell is medium strong, sawdust and a little bit of manure are what I smell.

The cold draw tastes like raisin, the draw is good though. Right at the get-go, I taste coffee but also a chewy flavor, like portobello mushroom with some leather. After half a centimeter I still taste the mushroom with the leather and some very mild milk chocolate. After a centimeter, I taste hay, dried grass with a bit of American milk chocolate. After a third, the cigar still has the hay with American milk chocolate flavor, but now with some herbs and pepper. When I say American milk chocolate, think Hersey. That’s different than European milk chocolate, a little more chemical. Halfway the cigar gets woody, cedar, with the chewy flavor again and some pepper. In the final third the flavors aren’t muted anymore. I taste wood, milk chocolate, a mild pepper, some herbal flavor. The pepper is getting stronger, now it’s a full-blown Nicaraguan cigar.

The smoke is thick and white. The draw is great. The white ash is beautiful. I had to relight the cigar once, but the burn is sharp. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. This is a nice budget cigar that would is great to have around for the days where you smoke more than one cigar and don’t want to break the bank. This is a medium bodied, medium-full flavored cigar with a strong finish. The smoke time is about two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good budget cigar, always nice to have a bundle in the humidor

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Categories: 89, El Piño Blanco, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Reel Grande Torpedo

Now this is a cigar that lives up to its name, it’s huge. And i’m not a fan of huge cigars. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind long cigars but I do mind thick cigars as 99 out of a 100 times it’s a waste of good tobacco and I never understood the appeal of the ‘big, bigger, biggest’ rat race that was going on in the land of cigars the last few years.


I don’t know much about this cigar, except that it was given to me a few years ago by a friend and that it’s made in Nicaragua by Plasencia. I don’t know if they released it themselves, if it was a private label and if so, for who it was made. I don’t know the filler, the binder nor the wrapper, all I know is that it was a budget cigar and that I had it in my humidor for a minimum of 8 years.


The Real Grande Torpedo is a 7×60 pyramid with a rough, thin, sun grown wrapper that feels dry. The shape is a little off, the cigar won’t stand up straight on a flat surface. The ring is decent though, burgundy with black, yellow and gold. It says it’s a limited edition.  The cigar has a mild smell that reminds me of a vanilla lemon cake.


Well, due to the vitola my only option is to cut. The cold draw is good, tasteless though. After lighting I taste a mild coffee, very mild. The flavor is unrefined and slightly harsh. After half an inch the cigar is harsh with a very musty cedar. Halfway I taste bitter wood with some floral sweetness.


The draw is fine. The dense ash it light gray. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is decent. This medium bodied, medium flavored cigar has hardly any evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. And why do cigar manufacturers release cigars like this with horrible tobacco? Where is your pride? What is your goal? Cigars like this will not sell and kill your reputation!

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Red balloons with ribbon – Number 80

 

Categories: 80, Nicaraguan cigars, Reel Grande, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Wilson Adams Mr. Wilson Lancero

Back in 2015 I visited Nicaragua for the second time. This time for the Cigaragua book from Marcel Langedijk & Jesaka Hizkia, they made the book but I arranged the whole trip, set up all the appointments, took care of transportation etcetera but when they left after a week I stayed a little longer to hang out with some of the cigar guys, learn more about tobacco and learn a little Spanish too.

 


On my last day in Esteli Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua drove me to Managua where I stayed in a hotel for 2 days before my flight home. And in that hotel I ran into Skip Martin, whom I met a year earlier. Skip invited me to come over to the patio of his room for a few cigars and one of his friends, Brandon Wilson from Wilson Adams Cigars who gave me this Wilson Adams White Label lancero

 


This 7×40 Lancero looks good with a milk chocolate colored Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and predominantly Nicaraguan filler. The ring is clean and simple, white with a golden pattern of lines, Wilson written in gold, the a W in gold and red and Adams in gold on a red square. Add a little blue and yellow and it would have been a Mondriaan painting, I like it. The construction feels good, no soft spots, the shape looks good, a well made cigar. The aroma is mild, I smell some dry spur wood and hay.

 


I cut cigar, the cold draw is great and mild sweet. After lighting I taste a smooth and sweet coffee. I also taste a hint of cinnamon. Slowly I taste more pepper and after a third the pepper is dominant with a bit of cocoa on the background. Halfway I taste more of a vegetable flavor with a mellowed our pepper and some salt. The pepper changes of flavor, the salt fluctuates in strength. The final third it’s salty with oak, herbs and pepper. The strength picks up, just like the spice and pepper.

 


The draw is perfect. The smoke is full, white and thick. The ash is light gray and it makes a curve to the left. The burn is pretty straight. As expected this cigar offers plenty of dynamics and subtle flavor changes. It’s a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to score a few.

Score: 91

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua, Wilson Adams | Tags: , , , ,

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: , , , , , ,

Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generación V

Up until recently, if you weren’t in the industry the name Plasencia would probably not have rung a bell, yet without doubt you have been smoking a cigar they made or at least tobacco they grew. Five generations of tobacco growers, owners of three major factories and an octopus in the industry as Jonathan Drew calls them endearingly, since they have their hands in anything. Everybody and their mother buys their tobacco, a lot of brands have cigars made by Plasencia and now they are ready to make their name a household name for cigar smokers.

 


Nestor Plasencia sr never produced cigars under his own name because he didn’t want to compete with his customers which is a noble idea but almost any factory produces private labels for others and still produce cigars for their own company too and why not? It’s double the margin. Plasencia tested the water in Europe with the 1898 and the Reserve Organica lines and decided to hit the American market too with a few new blends, of which this is the first to hit the shelves.

 


I love this box pressed figurado and it’s huge, 7×58 , with a dark, chocolate like, wrapper that has a little oil. The thick rings, there are three in total, are well printed. Lets start at the foot, a small golden ring with black outlines and black letters saying Alma Fuerte. The gold really pops, that is very difficult to print and it shows its a high quality job. Then the normal ring, matte black with the same popping golden letters in a P logo and the name Plasencia. Then a small ring above that, black with the golden P logo in a circle around it. The shape is awesome, the cigar feels evenly packed, it’s just mouth watering. The aroma is mild, it reminds me a little of saw dust.

 


I cut the cigar to find a perfect cold draw. The taste I get is spicy, herbal tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee, earth and spicy herbs like nasturtiums. The cigar is very peppery, strong Nicaraguan pepper.  After a third I taste the pepper but underneath I taste a little bit of chocolate. Halfway I taste also some wood and herbs with the pepper, the chocolate has gone. The final third starts a bit floral but with spices, pepper and a faint vanilla. All of a sudden the pepper gains strength again.

 


The draw is flawless and the light gray ash is firm. The smoke is white, thick and there is plenty of it. The burn is nice and straight. This cigar is well balanced, it’s a medium full bodied cigar, full flavored. The smoke time is two hours and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s expensive so it won’t be a every day cigar but for special occasions yeah, it will rival with an Opus X or Padron 1964.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Plasencia, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , ,

Bunch Robusto, Short Robusto & Toro

Bunch is a private label made for a Portuguese cigar importer & distributer that imports several brands from Nicaragua and decided to have a label of his own. He ended up at Plasencia for his cigars, like many other people that want a private label, from retailers that want a house brand to big names that want something else they can’t make at their own factory, like the Casa Magna for the Dominican cigar family Quesada or at their regular factory like Alec Bradley who uses Raices Cubanas in Honduras for most of their productions except the Nicaraguan made Alec Bradley’s that are produced by Plasencia. And Rocky Patel’s operation in Honduras is actually a Plasencia factory dedicated to Rocky Patel, under supervision from Rocky Patel but still Plasencia owned.

I smoked the Bunch Petit Corona late 2015, today I’m reviewing the Robusto and I will review Toro and a Short Robusto in this series review too. The Petit Corona had a good start but a poor finish, let’s see what a little more length and the thicker ring gauge will do to the cigar.

Bunch Robusto


The wrapper looks amazing, dark, smooth, oily, shiny, the veins were obviously pressed before using the wrapper to create an even smoother look and it works. This wrapper is gorgeous. It doesn’t fit the ring, unfortunately, because the ring is simple and without class. Just a pale yellow to beige with a light brown letters Bunch and a simple tobacco leaf on each side and vertical stripes in two brown/green colors both on top and bottom of the cigar. The ring should elevate the cigar, persuade me to buy it but this one doesn’t. If I would buy this cigar it would be because of the wrapper. The construction is flawless, on the touch it feels evenly packed and the head is beautifully shaped, round and even. The aroma is quite strong, barnyard, stable, a little manure so typically a well fermented tobacco aroma.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste a bit of a raisin flavor, mild spicy. After lighting I taste a mild salty coffee and peanut flavor. After half an inch the flavor changed to a mild chocolate soil flavor with some acidity. After a third I taste pepper with some lemon and a little bit of nuts. The final third starts with a strong pepper over the soil flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is voluptuous, thick and full. The ash is quite dark and with clear layers. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored at most. The evolution is non existent though. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? No. It’s not an unpleasant cigar but boring because of the lack of evolution.

Score: 84
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Bunch  Short Robusto

The short Robusto measures 4½ x52 and has the exact same ring as the Robusto. The dark wrapper is oily, smooth and pretty. The construction feels good and the cigar looks well made. The aroma is  quite strong and a classic barnyard smell.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is a bit tight. I taste raisin with some spice that I can’t identify. After lighting with a single jet flame I taste a mildly acidic dirt flavor. After a few puffs I also taste a decent amount of sweetness. After half an inch the acidity, which is lemon like, grows a bit in strength. After that there is no real evolution which makes the cigar quite boring. The flavors are not fantastic either, a bit rough around the edge. I don’t know the price of the cigar but it tastes like a budget cigar.


The smoke is thick and full. The draw is fine, but the burn is a bit crooked and I had to relight twice. The dark ash is quite firm. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No, boring cigar.

Score: 82
number82

Bunch Toro


The 6×50 toro has a nice, shiny, medium dark wrapper but I feel a few soft spots in the construction. The ring is the same as the other vitolas, so not too pretty. The cigar looks good when it comes to shape and triple cap. The aroma is strong and is a classic barnyard smell.


I cut the cigar with a xikar guillotine cutter and I taste spicy, peppery sultanas with a perfect cold draw. I lit the cigar with a single flame torch and taste coffee with wood. After half an inch I taste a mild bitter cedar with black pepper and some minty nutmeg. Halfway the cigar gets very peppery, classic Nicaraguan with a base of cedar and a little nutmeg. This is the best Bunch so far. The final third starts with strong pepper and dry wood and toast. The pepper is growing in strength and is overpowering all other flavors.


The draw is great and the smoke is full and thick. The ash is a little flaky, quite dark. The burn needs some correction. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? This is the best Bunch but there are better cigars available.

Score: 88

Categories: 82, 84, 88, Bunch, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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