86

Camacho Double Shock Toro 2014 Limited Edition

When Davidoff took over Camacho they restyled and reblended the whole brand and possible took it to a new factory, or they renamed the factory, that I don’t know but instead of Rancho Jamastran these cigars come from Agroindustria LAEPE S.A according to Halfwheel. Included in the restyle was a yearly limited edition and in 2014 they went for the Double Shock, a barber pole cigar, and then 2 together in a big ring. the only difference is a red or a black foot ring, I hoped it meant that the two cigars had a different blend but no, and I think that is a bit of a miss by the Davidoff development team, it would have been so much more exciting if the cigars were different.


Now all the excitement has to come from it being a limited edition, a 1000 boxes with 10 pairs, were made in the sizes robusto, toro, Churchill, figurado and toro and I got my hands on a pair of toro’s which had an msrp of $11.50 but I don’t know if that’s for the pair or for a single cigar. Anyway, it doesn’t matter as I got the cigars as a gift. They never made it to my side of the pond commercially so I’m fortunate to have gotten these and i’m actually looking forward to smoking this 5 country blend with Ecuadorian Habano and Mexican San Andres wrapper, a Criollo binder and filler from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and the USA (Pennsylvania)


The cigar certainly stands out in the humidor, the only other “pair in one ring” I can think of is the La Jugada Nunchuck. The double wrapper is another eye catcher especially since the wrappers used aren’t the usual Maduro and Connecticut Shade or Candela but a Maduro an a Habano. The San Adres wrapper is nice dark and toothy while the Habano wrapper is a bit more brittle. The construction feels good on both cigars. I love the ring, the foot rings are red or black, nothing printed on it but there is some embossing so they aren’t boring. The big ring is black and red with a black scorpion in a red circle. Much to my surprise I found a bright embossed and a red embossed ring underneath the combined ring with a shiny metallic logo. The cigar has a mild floral aroma. I smoked the black label one, but not that it matters since they are both the same.


I punched the cigar, the draw is fantastic. I taste a mild cedar and a little raisin in the cold draw. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame and I taste a nice, mellow coffee with a hint of pepper. After half an inch I taste cedar with a spicy grass flavor. After an inch I taste draw wood, like saw dust, with some nutmeg. Halfway I taste cedar, cilantro, nutmeg with a peppery aftertaste. The final third is a white pepper with cedar and some spices.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is beautiful and firm. The smoke is thin and the volume is poor. The burn is quite straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored with a moderate evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I will smoke the other one but wouldn’t buy new ones if I could find them. I expected more from a cigar called double shock.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Agroindustria LAEPE S.A, Camacho, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Tino Platinum Z-Class 550R

Davidoff and Zino cigars were known as milder smoked and with the Zino Platinum Z Class Davidoff wanted to tap into the market of cigar aficionados that like a fuller smoke. They made a blend with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Peruvian Pelo de Oro binder and a Yamasa Rojiza wrapper from the Dominican Republic.


Now I have no idea how, where or when I got this cigar. I can’t imagine that I bought it myself so it must have been a gift. Why am I so sure of that? Because I never in my life have bought a Zino cigar for the exact same reason why Davidoff made this blend, I like my cigars a little fuller bodied and flavored than the old Zino and Davidoff blends although I must admit that in the last few years Davidoff made a leap forward with the new blend. And since today is the birthday of Zino it’s only fitting to publish this review today.


This cigar has a wrapper that is not up to standard that I hold Davidoff too, I mean, the coffee colored wrapper has an awesome color but is rough, the veins are thin but rough, the wrapper feels like sandpaper, the looks are just off. The construction is a bit spongy, and it looks like the cigar isn’t evenly filled either, way below Davidoff standards again.The ring is nice, pitch black with silver details and a big silver Z in the middle. The mild to medium aroma reminds me of a farmfield and wood.


I used a cheap cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, yet not very flavorful, only a little citrus acidity. After lighting I taste a pleasant sour marzipan. Quickly I taste a mild harsh wood with a strong citrus flavor. The flavors don’t change much.


The draw is great. The smoke is thick and white. The ash is medium dark gray, it has beautiful layers with nice rings. The burn is decent. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The cigar lacks evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Cigars Davidoff, Dominican cigars, Tino | Tags: , , , ,

La Palina Lancero

Years ago, when I was still working for the biggest independent cigar distributer in The Netherlands a few of the brands we distributed asked us to look into La Palina, so we reached out to Courtney Smith who was their VP of Sales back then but has moved on to Cornelius & Anthony since then (a good move in my opinion, both for Courtney and for Cornelius & Anthony). To cut a long story short, we decided to give two La Palina lines a try run.


Courtney came to Intertabac and flew into Amsterdam a few days early. I picked her up and she gave my employer a box of the La Palina Classic Lancero to sample, yet my employer hates lanceros and is the only cigar smoker at the office so when I saw that box at the office a few months later, with just one cigar missing, I asked if I could have it. These cigars are made at PDR on the Dominican Republic with a Brazilian wrapper, a binder from Ecuador and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.


The wrapper is smooth, very smooth for a Brazilian wrapper which usually are darker and rougher than this one. Its shiny because of the oils in the leaf yet the cigar feels a bit like sandpaper. The ring is simple, off white with black letters with golden outlines, just saying La Palina classic in an old fashioned font. The cigar feels well constructed, no hard of soft spots, and the cap is decent. The cigar has a nice stable aroma, manure, some acidity and hay.


I used a flat cut to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great, cedar and spicy. After lighting I taste sweet and savory spices. After half an inch I taste cedar with pepper. Then I suddenly taste a nasty bitter flavor that I recognize, the cigar is bleeding and that after just an inch. An easy fix, just cut off some of the head, but still. After I fixed the cigar I taste some sweetness, cedar and some hay. Halfway I taste a sharp cedar, just cedar. The last inch gets a little stronger but still the same flavor.


The draw is good. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The smoke is quite thick and white. The burn is quite straight. There isn’t much evolution, which is rare for a lancero. This cigar is medium bodied at most, mild to medium flavored. And the smoke time is less than ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Dominican cigars, La Palina, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Macanudo Inspirado Gold Robusto

I have a man cave, the only place in the house where it’s allowed to smoke, even for my cigarette smoking wife. It’s a decent size room with a desk, a walk in humidor, my dedicated lancero humidor, a tv and four comfortable chairs. Once every few weeks some friends drop by for an evening of banter, cigars, booze and laughter and often they show their gratitude of me inviting them into my house by giving me a cigar. Now thats not needed, I have over 5000 cigars, but I appreciate the fact that they take time to either select a cigar from their stash for me or take the time to go out to a cigar shop and buy something for me, it’s the thought that counts even when I get a cigar that is way out of my comfort zone, like this Macanudo Inspirado Gold Robusto.


Now you wonder why this Macanudo Inspirado Gold is out of my comfort zone? Because of the brand and because of the wrapper. Let me start with the wrapper: Connecticut shade, the wrapper I hate more than any other wrapper. And then the brand, it’s a Macanudo and the best Macanudo I have ever smoked didn’t rank higher than “decent”, heck, anything from the General Cigar factories never ranked higher than decent in my book, decent or less. And I think that has to do with the sheer size of the company and the shareholders, the passion is not in the tobacco but in the money, now I’m not talking about everybody in the company, I know there are passionate tobacco people employed by General Cigars/Scandinavian Tobacco, but they are outranked by the bookkeepers, marketing managers and accountants. And when money is the main factor passion goes down and so does quality. I mean, go to a passionate ‘one off’ hamburger joint and the hamburgers are so much better than those McDonald’s or Burger King patties, a craft beer is so much better than a Heineken, Coors, Miller or Budweiser and a Flor de Cano rum is nicer than Bacardi because you taste the passion and craftmenship, the people behind the smaller companies take pride in their work and not only look at how much a product can make them.


The wrapper has a pale and brittle appearance, the wrapper is far from even, has unevenly placed pockets of tooth and just looks like its sick. The construction feels good but the triple cap is placed uneven and ugly too. The aroma is quite strong for a mild, Connecticut shade cigar but its not pleasant, an acidic ammonia and barnyard smell. The ring is simple, a matte gold ring with shiny gold outlines and the macanudo logo in shiny gold with red. The dull gold makes the wrapper even look more pale, the designers of the ring should have picked another color in my humble opinion.


Because the wrapper is so brittle and delicate I devoted to cut the cigar instead of punching. The cold draw is fine with a little chocolate flavor and a peppery aftertaste. The first puff give an unpleasant hay flavor, musty as all Connecticut Shade cigars and a little harsh. The harshness is only for a few puffs, after that I taste a mild but musty chocolate flavor and a little bit of pepper. After an inch I taste autumn leafs with some nutmeg and some sweetness. It’s not as musty as in the beginning anymore. It’s actually not bad what I’m tasting now. Halfway I taste sugar with the leafs, some nutmeg and cedar. The flavors then turn sweet and nutty with a little pepper on the background. The pepper is getting stronger while the sugar turns to caramel. Near the end the cigar gets harsh again so it’s time to put it in the ashtray and let it die.


The ash is silver colored and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The draw is perfect and the burn straight as an arrow. This cigar is mild in body and medium in flavor but well balanced. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but if someone gives it to me I’ll smoke it again on a Sunday morning. And this is why I like getting cigars that I would normally dismiss if I shop myself.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Honduran cigars, Macanudo | Tags: , , , , ,

Don Ibarra Black Label

A few years ago I was visiting one of my accounts in my previous job as a sales representative and the owner of the shop, Marjolein Hartman from Hartman Cigars in Amsterdam (and now also co-owner of the La Casa del Habano in Amsterdam) said she received some samples from a cigar manufacturer looking to break into the Dutch market called Don Ibarra with a white ring. Now is it not allowed to sell straight to shop owners due to the Dutch tobacco law so I was surprised by this tactic. She said she smoked one and gave me two of the other cigars to try to see if the company I worked for would be interested. I never gotten around to smoke the samplers though and I knew that my then employer wouldn’t be interested anyway since he didn’t like unknown brands.

Years later I see the brand pop up again, this time distributed by a competitor of ours, so through the right channels but I forgot all about the samples I still had laying around in my 5300+ cigar stash. I only found out about them when I lost my job and inventoried my stash in my online account at stogierate.com.  A few weeks later I happen to be at the office of the said distributer for some consulting work and the owner gave me a Don Ibarra to smoke, a belicoso, and this is the review. As far as the blend I have to admit, I don’t know, all I know is that Don Ibarra is a Dominican made cigar. The belicoso is 5 inch long with a ring gauge of 50. I also have a robusto and a gordo and I will review them all in this one review.

Don Ibarra Black Label Belicoso


The wrapper looks good, medium to dark brown and a bit leathery with just one visible and not too thick vein. The part above the ring is a bit shiny, while the bottom part of the cigar is quite dull. The ring itself is made from shiny paper, the background is black with white gothic lettering around a white colored crest and thick golden outlines, all too shiny for my personal preference but the color combination is good. The construction feels good, no complaints there. The cigar has a strong and pleasant raw tobacco flavor with a tiny bit of ammonia. I cut the cigar to find an easy cold draw with a harsh raw tobacco flavor that fits the aroma.


I used a soft flame to light the cigar. The first hit of flavors is a little harsh, bitter coffee and some ashy flavor. The harshness gets a little less strong quickly and the coffee turns to more of a wooden flavor with a bite. Halfway the cigar turns herbal with a little harsh pepper and some cedar.


The draw is very good, a little loose from being perfect. The ash is white, full in volume and there is plenty of it. After lighting the cigar and a few puffs only one side kept lit so I had to relight the other part which caused a crooked burn. The ash is white, dense and firm. There is some evolution in the cigar and the flavor to body ratio of the medium bodied cigar is good. The smoke time is seventy five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No this is not a cigar for me.

Score: 86

86

Don Ibarra Black Label Gordo


The wrapper has a nice, even, dark brown color with little tooth and it is quite oily. It’s one of the most beautiful wrappers I have seen in a long time. The construction feels great, the cigar is beautifully finished, its just astonishing. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay, just like the robusto, but with some wood added to it. The ring is exactly the same as the other cigars in this line up.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste raw tobacco. I taste dirt and coffee after lighting. Not a lot changes in the first inch, but that’s to be expected from a thick ring gauge cigars. Halfway I taste wood and dirt with a little lime. Near the end some pepper shows up.


The draw is fine and the smoke is white, thick and a good volume. The white ash is firm and dense. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is about ninety minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not a bad tasting cigar, just too boring for me. It would have scored much higher with a better evolution.

Score: 85
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Don Ibarra Black Label Robusto


The wrapper is very oily, very shiny but has discolorations, like darker smears on a medium brown color and a few veins. The construction feels good and the head if flat as can be. The ring is identical as the belicoso. The cigar has a strong hay smell, like you’re standing in a hay barn.


I punched the cigar and the thickness of the wrapper stands out. The cold draw is great and I taste a little raisin. I taste soil, cedar, nutmeg and the flavors are a bit harsh and unrefined. After a third the cigar tastes like fresh wood with a faint milk chocolate. Halfway it’s that soil flavor again, sticky, thick and buttery. Near the end I taste a lot of pepper.


The ash is quite dark and frayed but still reasonable firm. The smoke is medium full in thickness and volume and the draw is great.  The burn needs help staying straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 86
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Categories: 85, 86, Dominican cigars, Don Ibarra | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Undercrown Shade Gordito

One, this is going to be a tricky one, straight from the start this cigar has two things against it: It’s a 60 ring gauge and it has a Connecticut shade wrapper, although that last part isn’t a problem as it used to be anymore since my preferences are changing and my hate for Connecticut Shade wrappers has faded a little, there are even some Connecticut Shade cigars that I like including the Undercrown Shade Flying Pig.


The Undercrown lines all have a different blend, it’s not just a different wrapper but a whole new blend to begin with, both for the Undercrown Shade as the Undercrown Sun Grown. The Shade is made from Dominican Criollo, Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo with a Sumatra binder and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. While all the blends differ, the vitolas in all the lines are the same.


The wrapper is pale and smooth, as a Connecticut Shade should be and a little shiny. The ring is the regular undercrown ring in white and gold, that means a golden lion on a turned around crown on a white background. The foot ring is white with golden letters shade and golden outlines. The construction feels good and the cigar is well shaped, a well rounded head. The cigar has a distinct aroma of grass and those broth cubes you can buy at the supermarket to make soup.


I punched the cigar as I tend to do with big ring gauges. The cold draw is perfect. The cold draw is almost flavorless, just a hint of raisin. After lighting with a soft flame I taste a mild leather and peanuts flavor. After a few puffs I taste sugar too. And then I get that typical Connecticut Shade mustiness. After an inch I taste a mild leather with sugar and that mustiness. Only halfway the flavor changes a little, a bit of pepper joins. The pepper slowly gains some strength. With an inch to to the cigar turns.


The draw is great. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn needed some corrections. The white smoke is medium in thickness and volume. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, The wrapper and the vitola are a no.

Score: 86


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Categories: 86, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , ,

Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan

Candela, the green wrapper, has lost a lot of the charm and popularity over the years. If you go back to World War II, most cigars were candela wrapped due to the high demand. Farmers in the Partido region of Cuba used fires to cure the tobacco in the barns but the temperature raised too high, curing the tobacco in 3 days instead of the usual long process that naturally turns the wrapper yellow and then brown. So a lot of farmers started to use that method, those cigars were distributed to the American soldiers and that’s what they wanted to smoke after the war too.


Nowadays the tobacco is more of a gimmick and that’s exactly the way Alec Bradley thought of it when they decided to use a Candela wrapper for a limited edition of the Black Market. And they picked the green themed St. Patrick’s day as the occasion for this cigar to b released. The cigars, made at the Plasencia factory in Honduras instead of Raices Cubanas, were a hit and the Filthy Hooligan became a returning release, with tweaks in the blend and eventually even becoming a barberpole cigar. But this cigar is from the original 2013 release, a 6×50 toro with a Nicaraguan Candela wrapper, Nicaraguan and Honduran double binder and filler from Nicaragua and Panama.


I wouldn’t buy this if I was a regular consumer in a cigar shop, just because of the look. The wrapper is a pale grayish green with a clear vein, it looks dry and brittle. The ring is cool, just like the regular Black Market but with some green, a clover and the Filthy Hooligan name. The cigar feels well constructed, the triple cap is nice and the overall shape is good. For a supposedly mild cigar that aged for 5 years, the aroma is strong yet grassy, not green grass but mowed wet grass.


After cutting the cigar I taste a surprisingly peppery cold draw. After lighting I taste a sharp, metallic flavor over some grassy base flavor. There’s a little pepper too, white pepper. After half an inch I taste cedar with a little pepper. After a third the cigar gets harsh, I taste a little pepper, cedar and some salt. Halfway I taste the metallic flavor again, with salt and still that harshness on the tip of my tongue.


The draw is fine. The dark ash is coarse and not very firm. The smoke is thick. The burn is straight. This is a mild to medium bodied medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, just as I remembered the OR was the Filthy Hooligan I liked least.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fonseca Robusto

This cigar is a classic, made at the Matasa factory owned and operated by the Quesada family that has been in tobacco for decades. I don’t know exactly how they got the rights to the fonseca name, if they bought it or if they owned it in Cuba too and just continued to use the name after the exodus, might be a good question if I ever run into them at Intertabac.


I got this cigars years ago and let it age in my humidor, not for the sake of aging but because it has a Connecticut Shade wrapper, a wrapper I used to hate but started to appreciate during the last year so it’s time to give this Fonseca a chance to impress me. The filler is tobacco from the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic.


the wrapper is light reddish brown color, its a nice color. The wrapper has one vein at the back. The ring is simple, golden with red and white, thin paper, good printing quality. The cigar feels evenly packed with a nice triple cap. The aroma of the cigar reminds me of a mild vinegar and lovage.


I cut the cigar cold draw is great. I taste floral notes with a little pepper. The first flavor is a nice and smooth coffee. Soon I taste some nutmeg too. After an inch the cigar turns a little harsh. The harshness disappears at the one third mark. Halfway I taste fresh wood and refined sugar, the cigar is quite sweet although there’s still a rough edge on the flavor. The final third is sweet, floral with spices. I taste cloves and cumin with a minty aftertaste. The cigar is smooth all of a sudden. Near the end I taste coffee again with some vanilla.


The draw is great but the smoke is thin and gray. The ash is white and dense. The burn is uneven and had to be corrected a few times. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, only the last third hit the spot.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Dominican cigars, Fonseca, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Romeo y Julieta Capuletos Limited Edition 2016

During my last visit to Singapore I met up the very talented designer Nuzli Hakiim, we’ve been Facebook friends for a while and he designed the fantastic Jas Sum Kral rings. He also posts the best pictures on instagram, so if you’re on instagram, follow him. I handed him some swag and a cigar and in return I got this Romeo y Julieta Edicion Limitada 2016, a cigar I have never smoked since I don’t buy Cubans.


In Singapore, where tobacco is very expensive and there is only a very limited cigar culture, Cubans are still the bulk of what’s being smoked and bought but it’s a new market and the more people get educated, the more knowledge they gain and the more non Cubans become available I am sure that people will start smoking better quality cigars in Singapore too. Yes, that is a bias statement but I’m not a big fan of overrated Cuban cigars, poorly fermented tobacco that’s being used without proper aging and all the bullshit Habanos keeps feeding the public. I do appreciate the gift though and smoke this cigar with that nice lunch at ‘Fumee by Habanos’ in Singapore in mind.


Back to the cigar. The wrapper feels soft and oily, it’s quite dark for a Cuban cigar with some discolored spots and a vein on the back. The cap is done perfectly and the cigar feels evenly packed with the same resistance or sponginess all over. The ring is the regular Romeo y Julieta ring with a secondary limitada ring added. The aroma is mild, very mild and smells like a barnyard.


I used a double guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fantastic, I taste raisin with sharp herbs. After lighting I taste a pleasant and full coffee with a little splash of nutmeg. After a third I taste cedar with pepper and nutmeg, the flavors are sharp. Little over halfway I still taste the sharp, harsh, cedar with herbs but now also with some nuts. The final inch is a vanilla cedar flavor, still a little harsh.


The draw is amazing, especially considering the reputation of Cuban cigars. The burn is not straight though. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The fragile ash is quite dark. This medium bodied, medium flavored cigar has a smoke time of an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nope!

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Cuban cigars, Romeo y Julieta (Habanos), Romeo y Julieta Factory | Tags: , , ,

San Pedro de Macoris Brazil Robusto

San Pedro de Macoris is a city about an hour from Santo Domingo and it is know for the sugarplantations, tobacco and famous Dominican baseball players. And it is where Agio has their factory where they produce the famous Balmoral cigars. It’s also where these San Pedro de Macoris cigars are made, named after the city to honor the workers in the factory and out on the tobacco fields.

 


The cigars got released in The Netherlands a few months ago but I hadn’t tried them until I visited Piet van Kuyk cigars in the city of Eindhoven and got one of each blend for a review. The Brazil blend of the San Pedro de Macoris is made from Dominican Olor, Piloto Ligero and some Brazilian tobacco for the filler, a Dominican Olor as binder and a Sun Grown Arapiraca wrapper from Brazil. The cigars are available in the sizes robusto, corona and perla, I smoked the robusto for this review.

 


I like the ring, which is smooth, black with a green rooster, silver lettering and a good use of the national colors of Brazil, green and yellow. It’s a quite modern looking ring, not a copy of the new Camacho rings, not even in the same style yet it has the same modern feel. The wrapper is dark with some smears, and dull. It is smoother than what I’m used to from Brazilian tobacco though. What strikes me is how well rounded the head of this cigar is, perfect construction. The cigar feels well packed too. The aroma is strong, farmland is what comes to mind, but farmland that’s being worked on when the air is full of aroma.

 


I punched the cigar, the binder and wrapper are thick and the cold draw is a little tight. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and taste coffee.  The coffee turns earthy soon with a mild chemical sweetness, like the aspartame they use in diet sodas. I also taste some lime and some low quality milk chocolate. After a third it’s just the aspartame. Halfway the cheap chocolate return on the background.

 


The draw is good. The ash is quite dark, the layers are very clear and firm. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness. The color is light gray. The evolution is not dynamic, it’s actually quite boring. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No. Technically the cigar is great, but the flavors aren’t for me. Nice budget cigar for incidental smokers though.

Score: 86
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Categories: 86, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Dominican cigars, San Pedro de Macoris | Tags: , , , , , ,

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