87

CAO MX2 Robusto

CAO and me, it’s not a good marriage. I love the creativity of the brand, they always find a good theme to build a line around, cars, music, opera, it doesn’t matter, they always take the theme to the next level with the packaging, the names and the advertising yet most of their cigars are a let down to me, even the ones that get a lot of praise by the general public. And that’s also part of the fun of this cigar smoking hobby, everybody has their personal preferences. By the way, happy birthday Rick Rodriguez.


This MX2 is a highly praised line, a lot of my friends love this cigar, and I have had one years ago that didn’t made any impression so now I’m revisiting it after a few years to see if some aging did do the cigar good or that my preferences changed. Both are possibilities, I mean, if you browse old reviews of mine you’ll see I loved the big ring gauges and even wrote that me & maduro wrappers would never be friends, now I love the thinner cigars and the maduro wrapper, more recently I had to change my “I hate Connecticut shade” phrase since I smoked a few that I enjoyed, so maybe that will happen with CAO in general or at least this MX2 robusto.


The dark Connecticut Broadleaf looks dark and oily with hardly any veins. I see some lighter colored smears and I wonder if this is a boiled or painted wrapper. Underneath the Connecticut Broadleaf is a Brazilian binder, also maduro which explains the Mx2 name (maduro x 2) and fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru and the Dominican Republic. This 5×50 robusto seems well made with a well rounded head and a perfect  cap and it feels well constructed. The ring is unique yet nothing special, they are two black rings connected in the middle with silver lines and silver CAO MX2 writing on nice paper with a good printing quality. The aroma is medium strong and quite dark, manure with some moist wood.


I cut the cigar with a double bladed guillotine cutter and the cold draw is fine. At first I don’t taste a lot but then I clearly get a spicy taste on my lips with raisin and fresh wood. After lighting with my $2 single key flame that I bought in Singapore I taste coffee with a very mild sweetness. After half an inch I taste fresh wood with a little pepper. Soon after I taste some dark chocolate bitterness too, which I like. Halfway the cigar is just mildly bitter with a dirt flavor and pepper. The final third starts with dark chocolate and pepper. The flavors go back to the dirt and pepper again towards the end.


The draw is fantastic, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is quite dark, layered and firm. The smoke is reasonable in thickness and volume. The burn is fine. The cigar is medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 87

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Categories: 87, C.A.O. Fabrica de Tabacos Honduras, CAO, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Leon Jimenes Doble Maduro Ambassador

The Leon Jimenes Doble Maduro Ambassador is a 4 1/2×38-60 figured and I can hardly find any information on the internet except a lot of German webshops that sell them, they must be very popular there but nowhere else. Or maybe they are a country exclusive? I don’t know. The whole line, consisting of a short robusto, robusto, double perfecto, corona, Churchill, a 7×58 Gigante and this figured is very reasonable priced from €6,50 till €8,20. Mine is bought a few years back at Cigarworld in Dusseldorf.


The double fermented wrapper on this cigar is a rare maduro, a Cuban seed Brazilian tobacco called Cubra and its a Colorado Maduro and gives the dark maduro wrapper leaf a reddish glow. The binder in Brazilian too and the filler comes from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil and Peru. The cigars are part of the La Aurora family and made at their factory on the Dominican Republic.


I love the funny shape, it’s exactly the reason why I bought this cigar and not any of the other vitolas. And I guess you have to be a skilled roller to make a cigar in this shape and make it look beautiful with a flawless cap and an evenly filled construction. The reddish glow on the dark wrapper, that has some smears and a little tooth, make the cigar look even better. Too bad the Leon Jimenes rings are so dull. Red with a pale golden lining, a lion and a crown logo over the Leon Jimenes name but all blurry, the artwork needs an upgrade. The secondary ring is in the same color scheme and says Doble Maduro. The cigar has a medium strong barnyard and wood aroma.


I cut the cigar due to the small ring gauge at the head of the cigar. The cold draw is great, I taste some pepper and a little mint. After lighting I taste coffee with wood chips. Soon after I taste leather, chocolate and a little metallic flavor. After an inch I taste pepper with a little metal. After a third I’m tasting an unexpected mild orange flavor, something I never tasted in a cigar before. The feeling is a bit sticky. The final third starts with chocolate.


The burn is a little crooked. The ash is quite dark and firm. The draw is perfect. The smoke is thick and plentiful. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again?

Score: 87

Categories: 87, Dominican cigars, Leon Jimenes, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , , ,

San Lotano The Bull Robusto

I’ve always been a fan of A.J. Fernandez, from the day he emerged as master blender and manufacturer for a lot of the Maier & Dutch private labels, sold only through cigarsinternational and affiliated sites. I mean the Diesel Unholy Cocktail is one of my favorite cigars, I love most of the Man O Wars, Ave Maria’s etcetera and I’ve liked almost everything he made for himself too like the San Lotano lines, Last Call, New World and Enclave. But for some reason the San Lotano didn’t do much in The Netherlands. I guess that’s because we started with the weirdly shaped Oval line and that vitola didn’t went well with the Dutch public and tainted the San Lotano name for a lot of consumers.


San Lotano is an old Cuban brand that was owned by A.J. Fernandez grandfather but after the revolution th brand disappeared. Abdel brought it back with the San Lotano Oval, and later the round Maduro, Habano and Connecticut lines and a few years later this new The Bull, which is box pressed since that’s the best format for this specific blend according to Fernandez.  The cigar is made in Esteli with Nicaraguan filler and Binder and an Ecuadorean habano wrapper and comes in boxes of 10. I smoked the 5×54 robusto.


The cigar comes cedar wrapped and in cellophane. The cedar wrapping has the image of a bulls head printed on the wood. Once I remove that I see a dark and square pressed cigar, it looks like a mars bar, with one vein, which is also flattened. I see some mineral sparkles on the wrapper too and the cigar looks mighty tasty. And I immediately smell a quite strong aroma that is a mixture of a smoldering bonfire, cow dung and fresh pepper. The ring is of a thick paper, a black square with golden outlines, golden letters San Lotano and at the bottom a yellow and red banner with ‘by A.J. Fernandez’. Simple yet effective.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect, a little citrusy with some bitterness. I lit the cigar with my trusted vintage Ronson and taste espresso with some oak and a little sugar. A few puffs later I taste sweet and toasted oak flakes and some citrus. After an inch I taste black coffee, very dark chocolate and citrus. Halfway the cigar becomes less bitter, the bitterness was nice though, and a little more peppery. No more coffee but still oak with the bitterness of dark chocolate, a little sweetness, some pepper and citrus.


The white ash has some black smears and is firm. The smoke is thick and plentiful, just how I like it. The draw is flawless. The burn is good but not completely straight. This cigar is medium to full bodied, full flavored yet there isn’t a lot of evolution. The smoke time is little over and hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I stick to other AJ Fernandez cigars.

Score: 87

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Categories: 87, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , ,

E.P. Carrillo La Historia Regalias d’Celia

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


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


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


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


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

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

Score: 87
87

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

Casa de Alegria Criollo Corona

It’s not hard to figure out where I got this cigar, that must be Cigarworld in Dusseldorf Germany since this cigar is made in Esteli in cooperation with Cigarworld, the biggest lounge in all of Europe as far as I know. It’s a Nicaraguan puro with ligero from Jalapa, Condega and Esteli in the filler and a Colorado Criollo wrapper.


The cigar is a little short for a corona, it measures 5×44 but I’m surprised by the price which is €3,60 at the time that I am writing the review. And that’s cheap, very cheap, for a longfiller cigar. It also makes me worry, can it be any good for that price? Time to find out.


The wrapper is dark and oily but has a waterspot. The construction feels good and the overall looks of the cigar are good too. The ring is simple, its black with a brushed gold ring and shiny golden outlines, black letters saying Casa de Alegria and golden letters saying Criollo on a decent quality print. The aroma is strong, manure, urine, typical barnyard as you could say.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great. I taste some sweetness with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste a nice coffee with vinegar, quite sour but not unpleasant. I taste some pepper and nutmeg too after half an inch. After a third it’s a mix between a little harsh spicy and herbal flavor balanced with some powdered sugar and lemon. The final third is slightly harsh with wood, lemon and spices.


The draw is great, just like the thick smoke. The light colored ash has a bit of brownish taint. The ash is firm. The burn is beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Casa de Alegria, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

La Gloria Cubana Duke Exclusivo Países Bajos

This cigar was released in september 2017 but it’s in the book as a 2016 release. I guess that’s the Cuban calendar. This cigar is a Duke size, 5.5 inch by 54, a robusto extra as some others would call it. And this cigar was a gift from my friend Nasier, who works at Van Lookeren, a tobacconist in Amsterdam with the nicest lounge in speakeasy style underneath the shop. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, go visit Nasier and the lounge, you won’t be disappointed.


I said it before, the marketing genius that came up with the regional editions is worth his weight in gold, and probably several times. The same, normal blend, just a different vitola, and added ring with the region it’s exclusive to and a limited number of boxes and the whole world goes crazy, everybody is hunting down these cigars. Even I fell for the scheme when the first regional editions hit the market and I’m not a Cuban cigar smoker.


The cigar looks good, the shiny wrapper looks good, light brown, brittle but tasty. The ring is yellow with a drawing of a lady in a red cape, golden outlines and a secondary ring in red and silver with white lettering. On one hand I like the consistency of the Cubans that they use the same design for the edicion regional rings, on the other hand, they don’t fit with the regular rings most of the times. The cigar has a flat head, feels evenly packed and even though it looked like the foot was crooked, the cigar stands up straight. The aroma of the cigar tells me it’s still very young, probably too young.


I used my double blade cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste a mild acidic raisin flavor with some pepper on the background. After lighting I taste coffee with nutmeg, a little pepper and dry cep. After half an inch I taste vanilla, nutmeg and leather. After a third I taste leather with a little vanilla and cedar. Halfway I taste cinnamon. The final third starts with a sharp and strong pepper with a citrus and vanilla base flavor. The wrapper tears and I had to remove it. The aftertaste is peppery with a minty undertone.


The draw is great, the smoke is thick and full. The ash is white with black smears, it’s a bit coarse. The burn is classic Cuban, all over the board and I had to correct a few times. This is a mild to medium bodied and medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, burn issues, wrapper issues at the final third and the cigar is too mild for me.

Score: 87
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Categories: Cuban cigars, 87, La Gloria Cubana (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , , ,

Gurkha Celler Reserve Edicion Especial Koi

At the intertabac trade show, Juan Lopez from Gurkha cigars, gave me this small and fat perfecto, 4×58, from the Gurkha Cellar Reserve Edicion Especial blend and after a quick glimpse on the Gurkha website I learned that it’s made with an eighteen year old corojo wrapper of which only a 1000 boxes were made for each of the four vitolas, a pretty small release.


The Cellar Reserve Edicion Especial is a follow up for the Cellar Reserve Limitada, a limited edition version of the regular Cellar Reserve with a 15 year old wrapper. This Edicion Especial was released in 2014 and was followed by the Cellar Reserve Platinum and the Cellar Reserve 21 years. So if I like this one, I will have to start looking for the other blends too.


I love the shape, a shape made famous or popular again by Drew Estate with their flying pigs and if this was a Drew Estate cigar it would be a flying piglet due to the size. The wrapper has a nice latte color and a little shine from the oil in the leaf. The ring is huge, copper colored with golden and black text, very detailed, including batch number and I like it. The shape is great, including a small pigtail and the cigar is evenly packed. The cigar has a medium aroma of manure and barnyard.


I cut the cap off, the cold draw is tight so just to be sure I grab my draw poker but I hope the tight cold draw only is because of the shape. I taste pepper and some citrus.  I lit the small foot, i taste some mild coffee. The draw opens up right after I pass the tip. The cigar changes to pepper, sweet wood and herbs. Halfway I taste sweetness and a mild harsh leather and wood combination. The flavor doesn’t change much from there.


The draw is great passed the small pointy tip. The smoke is medium thick and full. The ash is firm and light gray. The burn is pretty straight. There isn’t much evolution. This is a medium bodied and medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Dominican cigars, Gurkha, Tabacalera Las Lavas | Tags: , , , , ,

Famous Nicaragua 3000 Gordo

For years I’ve seen raving testaments about the Famous Nicaragua 3000 series on my favorite cigar forum www.cigarasylum.com but since Famous doesn’t ship outside the USA and I buy in local stores when I’m in America I never paid much attention to it. Now I read people guessing where the cigars were made, theories about what factory including the theory that Oliva made a Series X, sold them for a few weeks before Carlito Fuente talked to Jose Oliva about the X, since Fuente is famous for the Opus X and Oliva agreed to take them off the market and sold them as private label to Famous, creating the Famous Nicaraguan 3000 blend but thats a story I have never been able to confirm.


Well, in 2015  I was at Tavicua, which is the factory owned by Rocky Patel in Esteli, Nicaragua and I thought I solved the mystery when I saw Famous Nicaraguan cigars being made. But just now, while looking up some information on the cigar, I found out that there are several series of the Famous Nicaraguan line and the 6000 series is made at Tavicusa, so the mystery of the series 3000 continues.


The box pressed 6×56 cigar looks intimidating due to the sheer size and shape, but that might be me, since I don’t like big ring cigars. The cellophane started to discolor a little bit and I guess I have had this cigar in my humidor for about 5 years after a friend gave it to me at a cigar meeting in Ocala, Florida. The medium dark brown wrapper is very leathery, it looks like leather, it feels like leather and the cigar has a strong aroma of forrest smells and soap. The construction feels good although the cap is applied a little hasty as it seems. The ring is simple, two tone green with the Famous logo in golden, Nicaragua Selection in golden too and golden 3000 on the side. The print quality is good.


I cut the cigar with a guillotine cutter. The cold draw is fine. I taste spicy sultanas and black pepper. After lighting I taste coffee with extra sugar. After an inch I taste spicy greens like rucola with extra added black pepper. After a third I taste minty leather with lemony spice. Halfway the cigar is spicy with wood and pepper. The final third starts with mint, wood and nuts.


The draw is a little loose yet it doesn’t influence the amount or thickness of the smoke which is great. The dark ash isn’t very firm. The burn is straight. This is a medium bodied medium flavored cigar and the ring gauge makes it a not dynamic cigar. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not in this vitola, a Robusto or thinner I would try.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Famous, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Toro

At my previous employer we carried a lot of brands, including Casa Magna and years ago that used to be selling like hot cakes, six years ago they made up 40% of out annual sales that year, it was crazy. But because of the high demand, not just in our country but anywhere, Quesada and Plasencia couldn’t keep up with the demand and we were out of stock for a long time, the brand never recovered from that long period of no stock even thought there is now a steady supply of Casa Magna. It’s not dead, not by far, but the sales are way less than they used to be. But back to that dry spell, one morning my boss calls me and says “I have a great replacement for the Casa Magna, there is stock in Germany so we have it next week so start selling and taking pre orders, I will email you the details now”.


So within minutes I get an email with the name of the brand J. Fuego Sangre de Toro, the sizes and prices, that were actually very low with less than €5 for the 6×50 Toro and some details like “Made by Plasencia in Nicaragua”.  Now thats where it went wrong, the cigars are made by Tabacos de Oriente, which is in fact Plasencia but not Nicaragua, its their factory in Honduras. But the cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, only rolled in Honduras (same as Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua for example) with a blend of Corojo and Criollo fillers, a Criollo binder and a Nicaraguan Colorado wrapper. Oh, and if you wonder if this cigar ever came close to Casa Magna sales? No, it took a long time to sell out the shipment we got in and it wasn’t even a lot. The feedback wasn’t that good, lets see what a few year age have done to it.


The wrapper looks beautiful, its dark with a few thin veins, nothing wrong with it. The construction though has a soft spot under the ring and the first layer of the triple cap is huge, which is not aestheticly pleasing. The rings are quite simple, the thin foot ring is black with silver and golden lining and silver writing which says J. Fuego Cigar Co. The main ring is a two tone red with yellow lettering Sangre de Toro in a paint like typography and the J. Fuego logo in gold on a black tobacco shaped spot and a not to well printed dotted golden outlining. Now the flavor is quite strong but also quite weird, its like opening a jar of pickles, now I like pickles and I eat them daily so this could be good. I punched the cigar, the cold draw is great and I taste black pepper with dry tobacco.


I taste a dry, roasted and smoky wooden flavor, slightly bitter with a hint of pepper. After a centimeter the cigar has a bit of chocolate, honey and toasted wood that isn’t too pleasing, it’s not bad but also not good. After a third the flavor gets better, autumn leaves and toast with a mild dark and creamy chocolate. Some puffs later I taste a peppery aftertaste. Halfway it’s oak with some freshness. After a third the cigar changed to peppery cedar and actually pretty nice.


The draw is great and I get a lot of thick white smoke from the cigar. The ash is flaky, its white with black smears and not too firm. The burn isn’t good but also not bad. This is a medium plus bodied cigar, medium plus flavored too. The smoke time is little less then an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No but I won’t mind smoking the half box I have left.

Score: 87

87
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Categories: 87, Honduran cigars, J. Fuego, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , ,

CAO La Traviata Maduro Evil Snowman

In 2013 CAO releases two limited edition versions of their La Traviata line, one of the only CAO lines that I like. I found both of the limited editions, Angry Santa and Evil Snowman, at Corona Cigars in Orlando, at the downtown location in February 2014 and I bought one of both 6 1/2 x52 Toro sized cigars just to try, as I do with every new CAO line as I do love their creativity in lines, packaging etc although most of their lines turn out to be a disappointment for me. But La Traviata was a good one, so my expectations for this limited edition is quite high.


The Evil Snowman is based on the La Traviata Maduro line, the cigar is made at the STG factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The wrapper is a Connecticut broadleaf, the binder is from Honduras while the filler is from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Only 21.000 cigars were rolled so I guess I was quite lucky that I was able to buy one of the last singles Corona had lying around in their huge humidor and that for the very reasonable price of 7 dollar even though that was little over the MSRP of $6.60


The wrapper is dark, smooth, oily but the construction is a bit wrinkly, yet evenly firmed and the head is beautiful. But lets not kid anybody, the ring catches the eye first. Donald Trump would say “it’s huge” and he’s right because the ring is over 3 inch long. Its shiny black with an image of an angry, evil snowman that could come straight out of a Tim Burton movie and the snowman is smoking a CAO La Traviata. The smoke forms the letters CAO. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of dark chocolate and hay.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a very mild raisin flavor before lighting the cigar with my vintage Ronson. After lighting I taste a full coffee. After half an inch I taste spicy, peppery wood with a little citrus. Soon after it’s wood with a pepper on the back of my tongue and a metallic flavor. After a third I taste pepper, wood and a faint cocoa powder with a soil flavor. Slowly the cocoa gets stronger and a little more of a chocolate flavor. With an inch and a half to go I taste nuts, spices, pepper and wood with a little lime.


The draw is almost perfect. The light gray ash isn’t really firm but it sure is pretty. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The burn is straight, no touch up needed. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but I never found the CAO la traviata Maduro worth getting again so that’s no surprise.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , ,

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