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Non Plus Ultra Maduro Toro

Non Plus Ultra, as far as I know this cigar was only sold in The Netherlands and it was a private label for the Non Plus Ultra Cigar Shop in Den Bosch, which is now called Van Dalen but still owned by the same owner who’s also a distributor and owner of Van Dalen Cigars in Rotterdam and Cigaragua in Amsterdam. The same cigars are still available in The Netherlands under the Davila name at the Compaenen group.


Now these cigars were made by Carlos Torano in Honduras before Torano was acquired by STG, although the origin of the cigars goes way back. It’s actually an old Cuban brand that has ties to both Hoyo de Monterrey and Ramon Allones. If you google the brand you will find old rings, of the early 1900’s that are similar to the current Hoyo de Monterrey ring and the old Ramon Allones ring.


Now this cigar is aged, at least a decade old but the dark wrapper still looks very tasty. The ring is simple, just glossy paper with red and blue squares and a brushed copper name. The construction feels good, the shape looks good, the cap is nice. The cigar has a mild wood and tar aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cols draw is a little tight. I taste a little pepper. After lighting I taste a dry, old coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste cocoa with a musty taste. Halfway I taste dry toast with nutmeg and pepper, quite dry. The final third starts with some marzipan sweetness, low grade marzipan though with some harshness and mild musty. The cigar gets stronger with more harshness at the end.

Hond
The dense ash is white. The draw is decent. The gray smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is razor sharp. I would say this is a medium bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

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

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Nicaraguan cigars, Non Plus Ultra | Tags: , , , ,

Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos

Well, I don’t know where I got this cigar and there is not a lot of information online. And all the information I find is on mainly English websites. I do know it’s for sale in The Netherlands and that it’s a budget cigar with a price tag of 4 euro. I may have gotten it from a customer to try it and give my opinion.


The cigar is made in Nicaragua, but I don’t know by whom. It’s a 4×50 cigar with filler from Panama and Nicaragua, a binder from Nicaragua and a Brazilian wrapper. They come in 24 count boxes.


The wrapper is dark, or is it more of a two tone? Theres a clear difference in the color, it goes from dark to a little lesser dark. The ring is pretty nice, think, black and red, well printed with a simple modern design. The construction is good, the cap is nice, the cigar feels evenly packed. The medium strong aroma is classic cigar barnyard with a little bit of charcoal.


After cutting I get a great cold draw, mild spicy dry tobacco is what I taste. After lighting I taste a sharp mix of spices with dirt. After half an inch I taste dirt or soil. The sharpness fades, it’s just a dirt flavor halfway. The flavors don’t change anymore, just grow a little in strength.


The dense ash is bright white. The white smoke is thick and voluminous. The burn needed a few small corrections. The draw is fine. There isn’t much of development in this medium full bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Chinchallero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Reposado Estate Blend 96 Maduro Toro

Yesterday I wrote how I got introduced to the Reposado Estate Blend and I reviewed the Natural version of it, which is the one with the Habano leaf. Then there is the Connecticut Shade version, which I never smoked and which my employer decided not to carry. I didn’t mind because Connecticut Shade and me, well, generally speaking thats not a good combination. Now maduro and me, that’s a different story. So today I’m reviewing the 6×50 maduro toro


The cigars are made at the factory of A.J. Fernandez, like a lot of other Meier & Dutch exclusive cigars like the Man O War, Diesel, the big Reposado 96 Salomons, Sons of Anarchy, Ave Maria and more. What I read online is that the cigar is made with aged tobacco, but that came from a vendor website and I doubt that a cigar this cheap used aged tobacco. It doesn’t say anything other than it being Cuban seed, but no origin, I’m guessing Nicaraguan though.


The ring is the same as on the natural yet with red instead of blue. And it fits the beautiful deep dark color of the wrapper. The cigar feels well constructed, the cap is nice just like the shape of the head. The aroma is strong, deep and dark, dried manure with some pepper.


The cold draw is loose, I taste some spice and chocolate, very faint though. After lighting I taste a mild bitterness that reminds me of poor quality cocoa. After an inch I taste wood and cheap, low quality chocolate. Halfway I taste wood, cocoa with a sharp flavor that reminds me of some spice I ate in Asia.


The smoke is thick and white. The ash is dark and ugly. The burn is uneven. The draw is a little loose. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, not really but price quality wise it’s decent.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Nicaraguan cigars, Reposado, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Berger & Argenti Mooch Maduro Minnie

Years ago, I met Albert Argenti and when I was in Miami one day we had a few cigars at Cuban Crafters where the Berger & Argenti office had their space. Berger & Argenti was the company of Kiki Berger and the brother Michael and Albert Argenti and Joey Oliva worked for them. I fell in love with the entubar series and especially with the quad maduro, what an amazing cigar that was.Later, when I started working in the industry, I convinced my employer to get in touch with them to start distributing the cigars. They struck a deal and we ordered a big number of cigars, a five digit number in dollars, we paid (pre payment is not uncommon in the cigar industry, especially with new relationships) but then it was all quiet from the B&A front. After pushing, pulling, other influential parties got involved we recieved a shipment but value wise only half what we ordered and not the products that we ordered. On top of that, al lot of the cigars were damaged and unsmokeable. Soon after Berger & Argenti vanished at all, I know Joey Oliva left de industry completely, Michael Argenti tried it with the La Gran Llave cigars that is now owned by A.J. Fernandez for a while and I haven’t heard anything from or about Albert Argenti after I replied on his Facebook question “what is your favorite bible quote?” with a ‘thou shall not steal’.


So far about the Argenti brothers scum, lets talk about the cigar. I bought this years ago, the Berger & Argenti Mooch was their budget like created as a hand out for people who mooch cigars from you. The price tag is on the paper wrap so I know this petit corona sized cigar was $3.99. They had a Connecticut shade version too. As Kiki Berger was involved I’m guessing the cigars were made at his factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, which is now run by his widow Karen Berger and she’s starting to build a name of her own. Haven’t been lucky enough to try any of her cigars yet but who knows what the future might bring.


The cigar looks great because the foot is wrapped in an in and a half long copy of a newspaper of the day that the embargo was installed. The newspaper is topped with a small brown ring and copper colored letters mooch. Then there is the normal ring, small and brown with the company name in beige and a thin line in copper. Especially the piece of newspaper would make me pick up this cigar at a cigar shop. The construction feels good with a nice round head. The wrapper is nice and dark, with some veins and a little tooth. The aroma reminds me of chocolate, but maybe thats my mind playing because the cigar looks like chocolate.


I cut the cigar due to the small ring. The cold draw is good and starts sweet with a strong peppery aftertaste. I lit the cigar slowly with a soft flame and I taste a coffee flavor with pepper. After half an inch I taste some caramel, peanuts and pepper. After a third I taste a lot of pepper, some cheap chocolate and soft fresh wood. Halfway I taste a metallic flavor with pepper. The final third starts harsh but with some sweetness.


The draw is good, no complaints on that department. The light gray ash isn’t very firm. The smoke is great though, thick and plentiful. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, not a lot of evolution and has a classic budget cigar taste. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Discontinued since the company went belly up but I wouldn’t buy anything from the Argenti thieves anyway.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Berger & Argenti, Tabacalera Esteli | Tags: , , , ,

Leon Jimenes Edicion Alemania

Today I’m reviewing a Dominican cigar that was made just for the German market, the Leon Jimenes Edition Alemania. And I picked this day because its the birthday of the German reunion, when East and West Germany became Germany again, 28 years ago. This cigar was a gift from a friend who came by to smoke a few cigars in my lounge a few months ago and right then and there I knew I would smoke this cigar on this date.


The cigar was released at the end of last summer and it was a thank you from La Aurora for the German market as the Leon Jimenes Doble Maduro sold very well there. The robusto sized cigar is made from tobaccos all harvested in 2006. The wrapper comes from Ecuador, the binder is Brazilian and the filler is a combination of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian tobaccos. The total production of the Edicion Alemania was 1000 boxes of 10 cigars, with a fixed sales price of € 7.60


The dark wrapper has a mean looking vein on the front but the tooth, the color and the oil make up for it. I’m not a fan of the ring, brushed gold with a burgundy square with the logo and a brushed gold colored ring with that same red color print, yet the print quality is low. The cigar feels rock hard and the head is a bit uneven. The aroma is nice, medium strong and it reminds me of dark chocolate with pepper.


I used a butterfly cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, a bit meaty. After lighting I taste an oily, meaty coffee. After half an inch I taste a meaty, slight harsh, wood. The flavors slowly change to a more herbal flavor with a little pepper. Near the end I even taste some nuts.


The draw is fine, the ash is quite dark and a little frayed. The smoke has a little grayish tone and is medium in thickness and volume at most. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope, too mild for me and I didn’t like the flavors.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Dominican cigars, Leon Jimenes, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , ,

A. Turrent Traditional Toro

I met Alejandro Turrent a few times at the Intertabac trade show and the Mexican parties they threw were legendary, I still get hungover just thinking about them years later but their cigars are a hit and miss to me. I do like the triple maduro they made, but that one was made in Honduras. The budget line World Selection Series had a few decent but also a few not so decent cigars, but then again, that was a budget line and their revolution was a cigar I could not stomach at all, just like the Macarena bundles they produce.


Now I don’t recall how I got this Traditional toro, a 6×50 Mexican puro packed with Criollo tobacco from the San Andres valley. I probably got it as a sampler as I used to work for the company that distributed Turrent in The Netherlands back then, but I no longer work there and Turrent no longer has representation there.


The medium brown wrapper had a shade that it just a little darker than milk chocolate and has a leathery feel. There are a lot of thin veins which make the cigar look rustic. The construction feels good though, no soft spots and a nice flat head, the triple cap is applied decently. The aroma is strong and it’s like walking into a stable. The ring is big and bright, red with a really popping and shiny gold, a beautiful color blue and a big Turrent logo in the middle.


I cut the cigar to find a little loose draw. There isn’t a lot of flavor in the cold draw. After lighting I taste a slightly bitter wood and coffee flavor. After a few puffs it changes to a mild spicy cedar. After a third I taste a mild musty cedar. I’m not liking it. The musty flavor disappears, it’s now wood with a mild nuts and quite some pepper.


The ash is dark and coarse. The draw is a bit loose. The burn is straight. The smoke is beautiful in color, clear white, medium in thickness and volume. This is a medium bodied cigar, medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half. 

Would I buy this cigar again? I like the people at Turrent, yet I won’t be buying this cigar again.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Mexican cigars, Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos, Turrent | Tags: , , ,

Berger & Argenti Classico Robusto

Usually I end my reviews with ‘would I buy this cigar again?’ but I can start this review with the answer to that question and it is a wholehearted NO! with a capital to give the statement more power. But that has got nothing to do with the cigar but all with the Argenti brothers that scammed my previous employer out of a lot of money over my back. I smoked some B&A cigars, liked them especially the Entubar quad maduro and introduced them to my then employer, a major cigar distributer in The Netherlands. He placed an order, paid and never got what he ordered, only a partial delivery of the wrong cigars in poor shape with cracked wrappers. And no quad maduro but Connecticut Shades instead. Then they filed for bankruptcy. So I would never buy any cigar related to those Argenti scumbags again, ever!


About the cigar, this is a 5×50 Nicaraguan made robusto with a Connecticut wrapper from Ecuador. The tobacco plant is stalk cut though, just like the Liga Privada wrappers, instead of individually picked and it is said that the stalk cut, where the whole plant is cut and hung to dry, results in a better balance between spice and sweetness. The binder is a Nicaraguan corojo over Nicaraguan habano filler.


I take the cigar out of the cellophane and notice the dark shade of the Connecticut wrapper, this isn’t shade grown or the stalk cut method makes the leaf darker, one of the two. The wrapper feels a bit leather like and has thin veins. The construction feels good, but the cap could look a little better. The ring is simple, brown with a copper line and white letters saying the name of the brand. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of a horse stable.


I used my Xikar butterfly cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine, quite spicy too. After lighting the cigar I taste a mild coffee flavor that slowly changes to cedar, all smooth. After a third I taste some cane sugar too. Pepper shows up at the final third and slowly grows in strength.


The ash is light colored and dense. The draw is good, just like the burn. The smoke is medium thick and full at most. This cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! Not a bad flavored but boring.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Berger & Argenti, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , ,

Vegas de Santiago Gran Reserva Maria la Gorda

Over the almost fifteen years that I’ve been smoking I have smoked a lot of brands, a lot of variety cigars, some I liked, some I didn’t like but one of the brands that I smoked almost from day one and still like today is the Costa Rican brand Vegas de Santiago. And they like me, they know my blog and at the Intertabac trade show they asked me to come over and handed me some samplers including this Gran Reserva, a blend unknown to me and I can’t find it on their website either.

 


I did found some information on the website of a German retailer and it turns out that it’s a very budget friendly bundle cigar, less than 5 euro for this 6×60 and the, now discontinued torpedo with the same blend once scored 94 points for Cigar Journal and earned the “best buy” title. I can’t find any information about the blend though.

 


The milk chocolate colored wrapper has a mild reddish glow but no oil. It feels a bit like velvet. The ring is copper colored with dull golden edges and white letters, very simple. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is good, the cap is nice. The medium strong aroma is typical barnyard.

 


Because of the big ring I decided to grab my punch instead of a cutter. The cold draw is great, the flavor is mild savory. After lighting I taste a sweet flavor with a mild coffee bitterness. Due to the big ring gauge the flavors are muted. A quarter of an inch in I taste pepper with cedar. After a third I taste cedar, pepper and honey. The flavor doesn’t change much, only the pepper grows stronger.

 


The draw is good. The light gray ash is firm. The smoke is medium thick and in volume. The burn on this medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is straight. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not in this ring gauge, that’s for sure.

Score: 84

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Categories: 84, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , ,

Kings Cigars King of Kings Habano Cuadrado

Early 2014 I went to Nicaragua but spend a few days in Florida afterwards and in a cigar lounge in Miami I met Pete from Kings Cigars. Now I can’t recall the name of the shop, but it was a hangout for a lot of industry people as Barry Stein (Cigar Authority, but back then employed by Miami Cigar & Co), Juan Lopez (Gurkha) and a few reps from other companies were there on their night off too. And Pete handed me a few cigars to try and to see if I could convince my then employer to import the cigars to The Netherlands. And what better day to post this review than on kings day?


I smoked a few cigars but a few ended up lost in my huge stash of cigars. After losing my job I took some time to reorganize my walk-in humidor and put my complete stash in stogierate so I know what I have and can actually find the cigars in the humidor. And I started to pick cigars from one assorted box to review, once that one is empty I’ll go to the next and so on and on. Today I grabbed the Kings Cigars King of Kings Habano Cuadrado, a box pressed 6×64 and all I know about this cigar is that it’s made in Nicaragua with Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and the Cuadrado is the only vitola with this blend.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I feel a smooth, almost silk, wrapper. The wrapper has a few thin veins and a medium dark color, like a cafe latte. The construction feels good, evenly packed. The ring is all printed, dark with gold and red, a golden crown over a crest and a banner with “king of kings”. The ring is not special though, it won’t really stand out in a humidor. The aroma is strong, its a mix of hay, straw, barnyard and fresh wood.


I punched the cigar since it’s so thick. The cold draw is on the loose side. The flavor of the cold draw is raw tobacco and hay with a spicy undertone. I lit the cigar with a soft flame but a jet flame would be more effective with a 64 ring gauge. I taste coffee, earthy flavors. After half an inch I taste a mild musty sweetness. It’s a Connecticut Shade mustiness but much milder. The aftertaste has a lingering pepper. Halfway I taste nutmeg, chili and honey. Before the final third I taste pepper and wood with a little honey.


The draw is too loose for my liking. But the smoke is plentiful yet medium thick. The ash is a bit coarse, light colored with dark smears. The ash is firm too. This medium bodied cigar is also medium flavored. The evolution is what I expect from a big ring cigar, not spectacular, not a lot of dynamic. The smoke time is an hour and thirty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again?  if there was a smaller version I would consider it but this is too much for me.

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Kings Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | 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
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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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