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Montecristo Monte Gordo

Montecristo is a household name in the cigar industry and the Montecristo #2 is one of the best known cigars around the world. But that’s the Cuban Montecristo! There’s also a non Cuban Montecristo, like a lot of Cuban brands with non Cuban copycats, although calling them copycats might not be fair as some of the brands were started by the owners of the Cuban counterparts after they had to flee the island when the Castro regime took over. By now all those brands are in the hands of the big players Altadis and General Cigars, which is a part of STG.


This Monte by Montecristo is made in the Dominican Republic for Altadis, owner of the brand. The wrapper is an Ecuadorean Habano, the cigar has a double binder coming from both the Dominican and Nicaragua and Dominican filler tobacco. I don’t know where I got this cigar, it must have been a gift as I would never buy a 6×60 and would stay away from non Cuban counterparts as my experience with those isn’t too favorable, except for the Partagas Spanish Rosado.


The cigar looks good, the size is impressive, intimidating and the medium brown, mild glossy wrapper has a beautiful structure, it looks great. The cigar feels evenly packed and well rolled. The aroma is strong and its like standing in a haystack, dried grass, straw, hay. The ring is glossy brown with a golden line and a flor de lis in the middle, a white circle around it and the letters Montecristo. It looks like the Cuban ring but on glossy paper, a little bigger and the Habana is changed for a curly MC. There is a second ring, glossy black with golden outlines and a red font with golden shadow saying Monte. I feel that the black and the brown don’t match, if I was the designer I would have turned the black into the same brown as the regular Montecristo ring.


Due to the big ring gauge I opted for a punch and the cold draw is fine. I taste a dull sultana flavor with a hint of white pepper. After lighting I taste a honey dipped oak with some fresh chili. The flavors are a bit weak and flat. The honey is the strongest flavor and that’s still mild and muted. After a third the still muted flavors are oak, some pepper, some toast all with a tiny honey twist to it. After a third the pepper grows a bit, the oak is still there with a little bit of lemon.


The draw is fine, a little loose like expected with this 60 ring gauge. I still don’t like this size, anything over 54 is too thick for me. The ash is beautiful, dense, firm and white. The smoke is on the thin side of medium. The burn is a bit off. The cigar is flat, not dynamic but that’s expected of a big ring cigar. I would call this cigar medium bodied and medium flavored. After two hours and ten minutes I still have over an inch left but I’m so bored with this cigar that I tossed it.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, no dynamic, muted flavors. I’d try a smaller ring of the same blend though.

Score: 79
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Categories: 79, Dominican cigars, La Romana, Montecristo | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

Back in early 2014 I visited Nicaragua and on my way back I spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. In Miami I visited Miami Cigar & Co to hang out with Barry Stein and after work we went to a cigar bar downtown. Barry introduced me to Juan Lopez from Gurkha Cigars, a brand that just came to the Dutch market. Since I was working in the industry Juan asked me what my expectations were for Gurkha on th Dutch market and I told him that the prices were insane, three times MSRP and I showed him the prices on a Dutch webshop (prices are fixed, set by the distributer). That was something that said distributer did with all of his brands, he marked it up crazy thinking the end consumer was stupid and would buy it anyway. I have to say, he learned from his mistakes and his prices are now up to par. But it shocked Juan, so he invited me to come over to the office the next day.


I called my employer what to do, I mean, I was there on vacation and I wasn’t about the steal a brand from a competitor, especially not a brand I’m not a big fan off, but we decided that I should hear them out and let them know that if they weren’t happy with their distributer we would be open for talks. The Gurkha offices don’t look anything special from outside, just a boring office building but once you enter, wow, especially their lounge with bar in colonial style blows your mind, and the hidden room with all the blends is a nice feature too. Juan hooked me up with a nice backpack, that I still use, a Gurkha knife that has fallen to pieces after I forgot to take it out of my pocket while doing laundry and a whole lot of cigars. I had smoked several Gurkha’s before and I was, and still am, reluctant to light them due to previous experiences. But heck, here we go, maybe it surprises me.


Now this cigar, 6×54, is made on the Dominican Republic by a factory called Tabacos Don Leoncio, a factory I had never heard of before. I don’t know what else they produce, so I have no idea. And that’s also the problem with Gurkha, they have so many different factories make their cigars that it’s hard to find DNA in their lines. The blend consists of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco, an Ecuadorean Habano binder and a Cubra Habano wrapper from Brazil. The wrapper had a mild reddish shine to it but looks a bit bumpy. The construction is good and it has, what it looks like, a quadruple cap but that could just be an error from the roller. The ring is typically Gurkha with a drawing of a Gurkha, a black banner with white letters saying the name of the company and a lot of gold, detailed decorations and of course “by K. Hansotia”. The aroma is mild to medium strong and has a mild acidic barnyard smell to it. So far its all good, lets hope the cigar tastes as good as it looks and especially the ring.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a little on the tight side. I taste a little floral raisin with a little bite. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. The first puff is cedar with some pepper but with a weird milky chocolate flavor. Soon it changes to rotting leaves with a little chocolate. The chocolate gets stronger after a third. Halfway I taste some honey, that cheap milky chocolate and some bitter spices and pepper. Near the two thirds mark I taste some cedar again.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a decent amount of it. The draw is good, not great but still good. The burn is a bit off. The ash is dark but firm. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! This cigar confirmed my previous experiences with Gurkha.

Score: 79

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Categories: 79, Dominican cigars, Gurkha | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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: , ,

Avo The Dominant 13th

In 2002 Ave started with a yearly limited release and in 2013 they went for the number 13 as a theme. It was the 13th limited edition as the first year they released two, one of the USA and one for Europe, it was 2013 so they put 13 cigars in a box and named it “the dominant 13th” which is a musical term and is a direct connection to Avo’s legacy as a great jazz musician. Today would have been his birthday, so I decided to publish this review as a tribute.


Only 9000 boxes of this 6×52 toro were made for a worldwide release and the box came with a USB stick with a short video, songs by Avo, information about the brand and a screensaver. The cigars have a mixture of Dominican filler tobacco with one Peruvian leaf, a Dominican binder and a Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper. I have one single cigar in my possession, I guess I bought it since I liked the La Trompeta, the 2012 limited edition a lot and wanted to try this one too but somehow it ended up in my humidor instead of in my mouth. Time to change that and light it up.


Once I take the cigar out of the cellophane I notice a very soft, almost velvet like, wrapper with a mild shine and a beautiful mocha color. The binder must be a different story as I see a lot of bumps under the wrapper, fellow cigar aficionado Joe Jackson would say “like a klingon beauty queen” as in his ‘Akward Age’ lyrics. The construction feels good though but the cap is a bit small. I love the rings, a matte brown with a broken white and Avo logo but what makes the ring so beautiful is the thin, shiny, silver line and the silver A in the logo. The second ring uses the same color scheme with a small silhouette of Avo on the ring and the word The Dominant 13th. The barnyard aroma is strong, a little ammonia, a little manure, deep and dark.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a little loose. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and I taste licorice, coffee and some sugar. After half an inch I taste cedar with licorice and nutmeg, a weird combination that doesn’t sound appealing and doesn’t taste good either. After a third I taste wood and nutmeg, the flavors have a greasy feeling to it. Halfway I taste this spicy, mild burning, wood. The final third starts peppery, woody and with a tiny bit of honey. Later I taste mint with pepper and confectioners sugar.


The draw is great and no complaints about the smoke either, thick, white and full. The burn needs correcting straight from the start though. The ash is dark yet firm. I miss complexity in this medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s a simple no!

Score: 79
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Categories: 79, Avo, Dominican cigars, O.K. Cigars | Tags: , , ,

Te-Amo World Selection Series Robusto

A few years ago, while working for a Dutch cigar distributor, we released the Te Amo World Selection series in the robusto size on the Dutch market, dirt cheap premium cigars (premium as in hand made longfiller cigars).. They came in 5 different blends, a Cuban, Dominican, Honduran, Mexican and Nicaraguan blend, all with some tobacco from that country except for the Cuban blend, they used some Cuban seed tobacco for that. Boxes of 15 cigars and we mixed them up at our office so customers could get 3 cigars of each blend.  A box came at 33 euro, making the cigars €2,20 each. And they sold like hot cakes until Turrent decided to raise the price by 40%, that killed the line and caused my (by then ex) employer to say goodbye to all Turrent products. I will be reviewing all 5 blends in one big review, in alphabetical order

Te-Amo World Selection Series Cuba Blend Robusto

 

Cuba, the birth place of the modern day cigar industry and once by far the best cigar producing country in the world. But that changed when Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries gained power and nationalized everything. A lot of knowledge fled the country and started making cigars in the Dominican Republic, Canary Island, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the USA. Without the revolution the cigar industry wouldn’t be as big there as it is today, but also the condition of the Cuban cigars would be much higher as then there would be competition so companies would push each other to great heights instead of a decline you see nowadays in the quality of the construction, the quality of the tobacco, the lack of rest, the under fermentation and mono culture. Cuban cigars are no longer the best in the world and haven’t been for a decade, which is a shame as the Cuban soil is unique when properly taken care off. But this cigar doesn’t contain Cuban tobacco, only Cuban seed but grown in Mexico.


The wrapper looks dry, feels silky and it would have been more aesthetically pleasing is the veins were rolled before applying the wrapper. The ring is nice, it looks like two rings but it is one, one regular ring in beige with the Te Amo logo in red and a brown outline to it with some text in white and then what should look as a ring underneath in yellow with vertical red stripes and the letters Cuba Blend. The construction feels and looks good, no complaints there. The aroma is quite strong, hay, barnyard and wet autumn leaves come to mind while smelling the cigar.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw, with a mild dry vanilla and raisin flavor, is fine. After lighting I taste a mild harsh and musty coffee and dirt flavor. After half an inch the harshness grows in strength with musty cedar and spices. Halfway I taste vanilla and nuts but still a butt harsh, very unrefined and unbalanced. Near the end I taste pepper too.


The draw is fine. The smoke is white, thick and good in volume. The ash is almost white and quite firm. The burn has some issues but corrects itself. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is very short with forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It is safe to say the answer to that question is NO.

Score: 79
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Te-Amo World Selection Series Dominican Blend Robusto


This is the one I fear most, because of the Connecticut Shade wrapper in combination with the price, I mean, you can’t expect a top shelve product for this price and then with my least favorite wrapper, that’s a combination that won’t make me jump up of excitement on forehand. The filler is Dominican.


Oh boy, that wrapper, even though its quite dark for a Connecticut Shade it is butt ugly. Big fat dry veins and a very dry touch. The ring is the same as from the Cuba blend but with the same beige on the bottom where it says Dominicana blend as on the rest of the ring, where the Cuba blend had a dark yellow band. The construction feels good, the right amount of elasticity and a nice rounded head of the cigar. The aroma is quite strong and very ammonia or urine like.


I punched the cigar and cold draw great, I taste a mild musty and very faint chocolate with raw tobacco. After lighting, with a xikar jet flame this time, I taste a sweet, musty and peppery wood. A quarter of an inch in I taste a harsh nutmeg and herbs with a hint of chocolate. After a third I taste a harsh, musty, peppery walnut flavor that is not very nice. The final third is very peppery, chili pepper with cayenne.


The draw is fine, nothing to complain about. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is off though, uneven and after an inch I notice a burn spot halfway the cigar so there is a tunnel burn. The ash is dark, layered and ugly but still firm. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is relatively short with just an hour, the tunnel burn has got to do with it.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, not a chance.

Score: 76

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Te-Amo World Selection Series Honduras Blend Robusto


The Te Amo World Selection Series Honduras Blend is made of Honduran filler, a Mexican binder and a Honduran Wrapper. Like all others the cigar measures 5×54. If I would have had to make a prediction in which order I would rate the cigars before smoking them, this would probably be my number two, behind the Nicaragua blend. But let’s see how the list turns out after I reviewed all five of them.


The wrapper isn’t the prettiest wrapper I have seen to put it mildly, rough, big vein but a nice deep brown with even darker smears. The construction feels good, evenly packed, just the right amount of sponginess and a all rounded head. The ring is just like the others but with a brown backing color for the text Honduras blend. The aroma is quite strong and is a acidic stable, like a urine drenched hay floor after the cows went outside for the day.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect and I taste raisin and wood. After lighting I taste nutmeg, oak and a little pepper. After half an inch I taste dull oak, very muted, with a little pepper. After a third the cigar gets a bit of a nasty flavor, kind of like a dry vomit flavor but thankfully that flavor changes quick to a mild harsh oak and a faint cocoa powder. The final third starts out with a full blown pepper, good flavor.


The smoke is thin and low in volume. The draw is good though. The ash is light colored and dense, but flaky. The burn is okay, not good and not bad. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If the middle part wouldn’t be so disappointing I would. The finish is really strong and good.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Te-Amo World Selection Series Mexico Blend Robusto


This cigar is made competely with Mexican Criollo 98 tobacco according to the Te Amo website, and all from the San Andres region according to other sources online so I’m going with that. It’s been years since I smoked these cigars and in my memory this is the one I liked most even though my experience with Mexican puros isn’t that good, so I am wondering if my memory might be wrong. Only one way to find out……


The wrapper is dark and rustic, it could pass for a Brazilian wrapper with the thick veins and the dark yet dry looking wrapper. The cigar looks mean and tough. The ring is simple, the same as the other rings but this time with a green bottom part saying Mexico Blend in white letters. The construction feels good, the cigar is a bit hard but evenly hard with a nice rounded head. The aroma is mild to medium strong and is a bit of a musty barnyard aroma.


I punched the cigar and the draw is loose, very easy. I taste raw tobacco and hay. The first thing I notice while lighting the cigar is the unpleasant smell. The first puff is a coffee flavor but not very refined with some sweetness. The sweetness is getting strong after a few puffs, it’s confectioners sugar. After a third I taste a harsh sweetness with nutmeg and pepper. Without the harshness it would be really nice. The harshness disappears halfway, I taste wood, nutmeg, honey and pepper.


The draw is easy but the smoke is thick and full. The ash is a little coarse, but light colored and beautifully layered. The burn is good. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, with a decent evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? As a cheap yardgar yes.

Score: 85
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Te-Amo World Selection Series Nicaraguan Blend Robusto

Nicaragua, my favorite cigar country, most of the cigars that I like are coming from Esteli and I visited the town twice so far. Not that I dislike cigars from other countries, just look at the Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius from Miami or the Balmoral Anejo Lancero from the Dominican that both scored high this year, but if there is one country that has more hits in my book than any other, it’s Nicaragua. So the expectations are high, higher than the other blends. The cigar is made with a Corojo wrapper from an undisclosed country, a Mexican binder and Nicaraguan filler.


The wrapper isn’t a looker, its not bad either but just a dry, medium brown wrapper with a few thin veins. The ring is equal to the others but I have to say, the red used to recognize the Nicaragua blend from the others is the best looking color of the whole series. The cigar feels hard but evenly packed everywhere. The aroma is strong, but not the nicest smell I ever smelled, like the toilet of a mall after hours.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight so I decided to cut instead. The cold draw is peppery with some raisin. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste chocolate with toast. After a quarter of an inch I taste wood and spices, but not the best I ever tasted. After a third I taste an ashy, salty flavor with some musty wood and a hefty dose of pepper. Halfway I taste mostly pepper with some wood. The pepper is getting stronger and stronger.


Due to the cut the draw is good. The burn is pretty straight. The ash is pepper and salt colored with nice layers and pretty firm. The smoke is too thin to my liking. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? As a cheap BBQ cigar, why not?

Score: 86
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Categories: 76, 79, 80, 85, 86, Mexican cigars, Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos, Te Amo | Tags: , , , , ,

Taboo Sumatra Churchill

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

Taboo Thursday – Taboo Sumatra Churchill

Years ago, and I mean years ago, a minimum of seven years at least, the private label of the Taboo Cigar Bar & Lounge in Texas, was quite popular for a brief time at my favorite cigar forum Cigar Asylum and I did a group buy for some friends and myself when I still did illegal imports, something I now oppose too as I learned how bad it is for the local cigar importers and retailers, and in the end they make it possible for us to enjoy cigars, gain more knowledge, make it possible to try cigars before you buy boxes and in some cases provide a nice lounge to smoke and events to meet fellow aficionados and people from the industry. So in retrospective I regret buying so many cigars online from overseas. But having said that, today I saw a Taboo cigar in my humidor and decided to light it.


The cigar that everybody went mad about was the Taboo Twist, a barber pole cigar. It is a private label, yet the factory where they were made was undisclosed, rumors say it was Oliva but they hardly do private labels so I don’t think that’s true. Actually, when I just checked their website it says the cigars are being made in Honduras, so that makes it certain that it’s not Oliva. Well, at a certain moment Rob, the owner of Taboo, not only sold the Taboo Twist but also a few other blends and even a few limited editions. I grabbed this 7×52 Sumatra from my humidor to smoke. This specific blend isn’t available anymore on their website, but the Twist is just like the Taboo HSG.


The cellophane this cigar came from is staring to discolor as a sign of aging. The Sumatra wrapper is medium dark in color but still has an oily shine and looks pretty and tasty. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. The ring is a bit tacky, the round logo looks like fire with silver letters Taboo cigars and the side and back are like diamond plating. The ring is clear, it’s different but it doesn’t score high on my personal scale on how I like a cigar ring to look. The aroma is mild and reminds me of hay and straw.


When I wet the cap I notice a sweet flavor, but the wrapper doesn’t taste sweetened though. I punched the cigar and the cold draw is fine with a little sweetness on the lips and some dry hay and raisin in my mouth. I taste sweetness and I start to wonder if the wrapper is sweetened after all as it’s a little chemical sweetness. The other flavor is a little musty wood. After an inch I taste some nuts and wood, the sweetness is gone. After a third I taste some pepper with a little metallic flavor and a little nuts. Halfway it’s musty wood again, with a little bit of that metallic flavor and some pepper. After two thirds the pepper gains in strength a bit, with the musty and slightly sweet wood as a base.


The draw is good, but not fantastic. The smoke is medium is volume and thickness. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is good, again not fantastic but good. The strength is medium, just like the flavor. The smoke time is two hours and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? They are not for sale anymore and even if they were I wouldn’t.

Score: 79
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Categories: 79, Honduran cigars, Taboo

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