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Corona Dominican 10th Anniversary Phatty

When I made my first trip to the USA in the spring of 2009 I landed in heaven when I walked into Corona Cigar Company at their West Sand Lake store in Orlando, I had never seen so many cigars in my life, and a lot of them were unknown for me coming from a country that has limited room for brands and back then most of the cigars sold were Cubans, something that changed dramatically in the years after though. And the shop has been a stable hang out for me every time I visited the USA since. Since it’s the owner Jeff’s birthday I’m publishing this review today.


During one of my trips, and I am guessing it was the 2011 trip, I bought a sampler of their 10th anniversary cigars, a sampler with a variety of different blends and sizes and amongst them was this Corona Dominican Selection 10th Anniversary Phatty, a 6×60 Connecticut Shade wrapped cigar. And I never touched it for two reasons, the 60 ring gauge and the Connecticut Shade wrapper, but lately I started to enjoy the latter so why not light it? If it doesn’t meet up to my prefered taste then at least I get a review out of it and will light a cigar I love later.


The wrapper feels very silky but also bumpy like a klingon queen, so I guess the binder was very rough. The wrapper has a mild shine to it. The construction feels good but the head has a weird bump on it, it almost looks like the binder had a pig tail and the wrapper was rolled over it. The aroma is strong, much stronger than I expected, and reminds me of a sour hay with a little hint of ammonia. The ring is nice, golden with an embossed 10 at the bottom, red stripes on the top part with the Corona logo in red on a white background.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter and the cold draw is easy with a mild straw and raisin flavor. Right after lighting the cigar, with my soft flame of course, I taste coffee, hay, a little honey and some pepper but with the classic Connecticut shade mustiness. After a centimeter I taste musty cedar with pepper. After a third I taste nuts with some cedar with a bit of salt and pepper, the flavors are a little harsh but not in an unpleasant way. Slowly the pepper gains strength and a cedar flavor joins the flavor palate. After two thirds I also taste quite a strong lemon flavor.


The draw is a little bit loose, for my personal preference it could use a little more resistance but I guess the big ring gauge is part of the cause. The smoke is full and thick, just as I like it. The light gray ash is a bit coarse but pretty dense and firm. The burn is pretty straight for the first inch but then starts to get a little crooked. The cigar is medium bodied, medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Since you can get them for just $3 this is a great humidor filler. And they make great cigars for the non smokers or incidental smokers.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Corona, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Manowar Virtue Torpedo

I had this Manowar Virtue in my humidor for some time now but always left it alone because of the Ecuadorean Connecticut Shade wrapper, a type of wrapper I used to hate. Yes, you read it right, used to hate because since a few months I find myself enjoying the Connecticut shade wrapper more than I ever did, much to my own surprise so tonight I decided to finally grab this Manowar Virtue.


I do have some experience with the Manowar brand, made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua in a state of the art, huge & modern factory of which I had the pleasure to visit once. I smoked the regular Manowar, the Ruination and some of the side projects but as said before, never this Virtue which is supposed to be the smoothest of them all due to the wrapper.


I still don’t like the look of Connecticut Shade, it’s pale and looks like a cigar turned sick.  The construction of this 6 1/2×52 torpedo looks and feels good though although the cap isn’t placed completely straight. The ring is beautiful, the mask that’s on all Manowar cigars but this time in silver and white with dark blue letters Virtue. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of a barnyard and a hay stack.


I cut the cigar with my butterfly cutter and get a fabulous cold draw. I taste some mint with dry tobacco and pepper on my lips. After lighting the cigar with my soft flame I taste the classic mustiness from Connecticut Shade but with some sweetness and a bite. The sweetness is pure cane sugar and I also taste autumn leaves but with some harshness in the back of my throat. The harshness disappears soon and I taste nutmeg instead. After a third I taste some dry hay with white pepper and still a little sweetness, but no longer that strong cane sugar anymore but more like a mild stevia sweetness. Halfway I taste mild spicy and sweet wood and peanut shells, which is pretty nice. The sweetness turns sugary again and grows in strength


The draw is perfect, smooth and open. The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The salt and pepper colored ash looks flaky but is still quite firm. The burn is quite straight. LThe cigar is smooth indeed, mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, it’s not a bad cigar though and it is a confirmation that Connecticut Shade is growing on me but not enough to justify buying more.

Score: 89

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Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , ,

E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic

I have met Ernesto Perez Carrillo a few times, both at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund and once in Nicaragua where we ran into him at the A.J. Fernandez factory while interviewing A.J. and taking pictures for the Cigaragua book. Ernesto came walking in with Gilberto Oliva, so there was a lot of tobacco knowledge on a few square meters there. And last september at the Intertabac trade show I walked passed the booth, Ernesto called me in and said “I would like you to try this cigar” and handed me this Encore.


Now when I see that the encore is a Nicaraguan puro, even though its made on the Dominican Republic, I think “maybe I ran into him when he was buying tobacco for this line”, I mean, he was with Gilberto Oliva, Angel from ASP and came to visit A.J. Fernandez and those are three tobacco growers. But I could be wrong. The cigar comes in four vitolas and I smoked the 5 3/8×52 Majestic.


The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane and has a cloth band to protect the foot of the cigar. When I release the cigar from the cellophane I notice that it’s slightly box pressed. The cigar has a double ring, a secondary ring in brown with copper colored, dry detailed outlines and white letters saying Perez Carrillo and then a main ring in the same brown with the same copper detailed outlines, different shades of brown and white to detail the ring and the Perez Carrillo logo in the center with encore in white letters. The ring fits perfect with the dark, little rough but oily wapper. The cigar feels evenly packed, the shape is good, the cap is good. And the aroma is great, freshly baked whole grain bread and bell peppers, with a little manure.


I cut the cigar for a very loose cold draw, which tastes mild spicy. After lighting I taste a dry and strong espresso, bitter in a positive way. After a third I taste cedar with a faint cocoa, slightly bitter and harsh. The flavors don’t change after, except for a little pepper at the end.


The smoke is amazing, thick, white, full and a lot of it. The draw is a little loose. The ash is light gray with black stripes. The burn is straight. The evolution lacks a little. I would call it medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like to try one with a draw that is less loose, I expect that the flavors are more refined then due to a lower combustion temperature and it will also lead to a longer smoke duration.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, E.P. Carrillo, Tabacalera La Alianza | Tags: , , , ,

Don Payo El Baron Toro

A few days ago I smoked and reviewed the Don Payo El Baron Toro and now I’m smoking and reviewing it again. That might look like overkill, but it’s not. The big difference between the cigars is the age, the one that I smoked a few days back was an old one, probably close to ten years old while this cigar is pretty fresh, smoking it a few days apart will really show the difference and what age did to the blend.


Don Payo El Baron is a cigar made by Guillen Cigars and the cigar, just like their other blends, disappeared for a few years but are now back, exclusively for the website Untold Leaf (use ‘CIGARGUIDE’ for 30% off). The batches are still small, just like a decade ago, and the cigar is hard to find, yet under 6 dollar if you use the 30% off code.


The wrapper is not to my liking when it comes to color, a yellowish brown wrapper, with thin veins, quite oily though. The ring could use an overhaul but I do like the fact that Guillen Cigars sticks to the glossy black & gold for all their cigars except for the Don Fernando, which is in the colors of The Netherlands. The cigar feels good, no hard or soft spots, the shape is fine too. The aroma is quite strong, herbal like rocket salad.


After cutting the cigar I taste a mild spicy and grassy flavor with a cold draw that is a little bit tight. After lighting I taste grass with cinnamon and cedar. After a centimeter I taste some cedar with pepper and a mild musty Connecticut Shade flavor. After a third i also taste a honey sweetness. Halfway I taste a bit of marzipan with green herbs and pepper. The final third is cedar with a little pepper again. There is also a mild acidity.


The draw is great. The white ash is medium in thickness and volume. The white with black spots ash is firm. The burn is great. This medium bodied and flavored cigar has a smoke time of an hour and a half approximately, I don’t know exactly since I was forced to take a break, due to the fire brigade evacuating the whole block due to a gasoline smell.

Would I buy this cigar again?  I’m not liking the Connecticut Shade myself, so I won’t, but it you like that wrapper, please order.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Don Payo, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , ,

H. Upmann Magnum 54

I started to smoke cigars on a vacation to Singapore and Indonesia, on the way there we bought some cigars at Changi Airport to smoke in Indonesia and on the way back I maxed my creditcard with Cohiba, Montecristo, Upmann, Romeo y Julieta and other Cuban marca’s. When I was out, and more knowledgable and learned more of what I liked and not liked, my first purchase was a box of the H. Upmann corona major in tubes and back then the tubes were silver instead of yellow. Digging deep in my memory I recall that the box date was may 2003.


So because of that I still have a soft spot for the H. Upmann brand even though I drifted far from Cuban cigars and call Nicaragua my favorite cigar country for over a decade now. But when my buddy Nasier offered me this aged H. Upmann Magnum 54 my memory drifted back to that box of corona major. Nasier by the way, is the shopmanager of Van Lookeren in Amsterdam, and they have the coolest ‘speakeasy’ lounge in the basement under the shop, I recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Amsterdam.


The shape of the cigar is good and the cigar feels evenly packed, I can’t feel any plugs. The milk chocolate colored wrapper feels brittle but looks decent. The ring is red with golden outlines, a golden logo and white letters and that goes for the secondary ring too. The stable aroma is mild.


I cut a thin slice of the cap. The cold draw, sweet and raisin flavored, is great. After lighting I taste soil with some sweetness. There is a bit of nuts and quite some pepper for a Cuban cigar too. After half an inch I taste cedar with mild pepper. After an inch I also taste the nuts again. Halfway the pepper is really strong, if I smoked this cigar blind I would have guessed it was Nicaraguan. It’s also a little harsh, like the tobacco isn’t fully fermented. At the end I taste cedar with a little pepper and floral flavors.


The draw is great, and the smoke is thick and full. The pepper and salt colored ash is firm. The burn is a bit off, I had to correct a few times. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, H. Upmann (Habanos), H. Upmann Factory | Tags: , , ,

Quesada Reserva Privada Toro

The Quesada family has honored the previous generations before, in the Tribute series, but this cigar is a tribute too, first and foremost to the father of Manuel Quesada who planted and picked the tobacco for this cigar back in 1997, a year before he passed away, but also a tribute to the new generation in the shape of modern boxes and a hologram logo. And the new generation, in the shape of Raquel Quesada gave me this cigar at the Intertabac trade show.


So the filler is a Dominican San Vincente leaf with Pennsylvania broadleaf ligero, the binder is that vintage, 18 year old, Dominican Criollo with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper in a 5 5/8×54 size. All the cigars are aged an additional year after rolling before they are shipped to the shops. And I wonder, what happens when the vintage binder is gone? Is there a new stash of a 1998 harvest to continue the blend or will the cigar just disappear?


The mocha colored wrapper looks beautiful yet brittle, with a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, simple, stylish, modern with a black back drop, the Quesada Q logo in golden hologram style and glossy silver ‘Quesada’ and ‘reserva’ prints on the sides. Very tasteful, very well printed. The cigar feels well constructed, evenly packed and the triple cap is flawless. The medium strong aroma is typical manure, Cubanesque manure.


I cut the cigar with my butterfly cutter. The cold draw is perfect and I taste a mild sweet floral yet herbal flavor. After lighting I taste a sweet yet mild musty and floral coffee. After an inch I taste sweetness, Connecticut mustiness and cedar. The sweetness fades, a white pepper shows up with a mild floral sweetness. The cigar gets stronger.


The draw is great. The white ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That darn Connecticut Shade, still not my wrapper.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Aging Room Solera Sungrown Robusto

Aging Room is part of the portfolio of Boutique Blends, a company founded by Rafael Nodal. Well, not exactly, Boutique Blends is the new name of the old Habana Cuba Cigar Company, founded in 1996 during the cigar boom and famous for the (then flavored) Oliveros brand. Nodal, who had been selling the cigars in Miami through the internet decided to buy the company in 2002, and over the years released new cigars like Swag, Aging Room and King Habano decided to rename the company and steer away from flavored cigars in 2012, thats when the name Boutique Blends was born.

 


Aging Room is the biggest seller of the company, famous for the small batches but the solera cigars, made with the same solera method as used for liquor, is a regular production cigar that comes in four blends, a shade, a maduro, a sun grown and a corojo. I’m smoking the sun grown version. The cigar is a Dominican puro, with Dominican Habano as both filler and binder with a Dominican sun grown wrapper. I’m smoking the Fantastico, a 5 1/6×54 very blunt torpedo.

 


The wrapper, as far as I can see it, is quite dark, it has some oil but I can’t see much of it because the secondary ring is huge, add that to an average primary ring and two thirds of the cigar is covered. The rings look nice though, yellow with black letters, simple yet tasteful with the golden details. I like the unusual shape, its not really a torpedo because the head it too blunt, yet its not a parejo either because the head isn’t straight. The aroma is faint and floral.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is good. The flavors I get in the cold draw is are sweet yet with a little lemon. After lighting it’s straight up coffee, a nice tasting coffee with a hint of pepper. After an inch I taste more lemon, some herbs and a little coffee. I get a bit of a bubbling sensation, like I’m drinking a carbonated soda. After a third I taste a stronger pepper with lemon but that carbonated sensation is gone. There’s also a herbal flavor, green herbs. The final third starts very peppery with a little vanilla.


The draw is great. The ash is dense, white and firm. The smoke could be thicker though. The burn is good. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and also medium full flavored with a decent balance. The smoke time is and hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe a single once in a while

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Aging Room, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera Palma | Tags: , , , , ,

Brick House Connecticut Toro

Brick House is a brand with a lot of history and named after the brick house that was the Newman family home back in Hungary, the only brick house in the village. Originally it was a Cuban puro and the brand was discontinued when the embargo hit but since a few years its back as a Nicaraguan cigar, and with such a success that it had offspring, including this Connecticut line.


Again, just like the Perla del Mar Maduro, the Newman website doesn’t even mention this cigar, not even on the dedicated Brick House website except for a banner which says “introducing the Connecticut” but then nothing. I found out that it’s a Nicaraguan made cigar, with Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Connecticut wrapper. Judging from the MSRP, which is around 6 dollar, this won’t be an American grown Connecticut Shade wrapper, but where it’s from I don’t know.


The wrapper is yellowish, pale, combine with my prejudice on Connecticut Shade wrappers and you can guess that I would not grab this cigar in a shop myself. I was given this cigar with the question to tell the gracious giver what my thoughts are. The simple yellow, black, gold and red ring I like, classy, well printed and I also like the American flag style foot ring with the stars and stripes, although there are only 5 stars and 5 stripes but that might be a reference to the history of Connecticut that i’m not aware of. If that’s the case, please comment and share your knowledge. The construction feels good, the shape of the cigar is nice and so is the triple cap. The aroma is surprisingly full and strong, its fermenting grass what I think of when I smell the cigar.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine, it’s sweet yet peppery. After lighting I taste a very mild coffee, smooth yet a little salty. After half an inch just a little bit of sweetness and some mild herbs. After a third a very mild chocolate shows up too. I don’t taste any Connecticut Shade mustiness though which is a plus. Halfway I taste a little more salt. The chocolate is gone, it’s just a mild salt with some sweetness. The flavors don’t change after that, except that the cigar gets spicy and peppery.


The draw is great, the smoke is great. It’s white, thick and plentiful. The light ash is dense and firm. This is a mild cigar, smooth but mild. It lacks some evolution. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s too mild for me but if you’re into mild cigars this is a good choice.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Brick House, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA | Tags: , , , ,

CAO Pilon Robusto

A few years back, while I was still working for The Longfiller Company, the largest independent cigar importer in The Netherlands, I walked into the office one day and my employer said “Stijn Elbersen was here and he left a box of CAO Pilon Churchill, I love them, try one”. I was surprised for two reasons, first that Stijn visited our office, Stijn is an important manager at STG, a company that we didn’t do much business with at the time, and that my employer, who’s very loyal to what he likes, only a few brands that he enjoys a lot, liked a CAO. I grabbed a cigar, lit it and I was under impressed.


At the last Intertabac trade show I ran into Stijn and Rick Rodriguez, we spend some time chatting and they gave me the Fuma em Gorda, Anaconda and this CAO Pilon Robusto. The Pilon is quite unique as a very old method of fermenting the tobacco has been used for the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Nowadays fermentation is done in huge, rectangle stacks, creating more heat than the Pilon style, which is done in smaller, round, stacks. Due to the smaller stacks the temperature is lower, so it takes longer for the leafs to fully ferment but it also leads to a bigger reduction of ammonia and sugar. Add some Nicaraguan filler and binder from Esteli and Ometepe to the wrapper and there you have the CAO Pilon.


The wrapper feels lacquered, its coffee colored with a nice shine and a long thin vein. The beige ring is big and simple, stylish with black letters pilon in the centre and the CAO logo. The size 5×52 is mentioned as well as Rick Rodriguez’s signature. The triple capped head is beautifully rounded and the cigar feels evenly firm everywhere. The aroma is lacking though, I don’t smell a lot when I sniff the cigar.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste a mild sweet raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a nice smooth coffee. Slowly the flavor changes to smooth cedar with floral notes. Halfway I still taste the cedar, with the floral notes, a little vanilla and pepper. The pepper fades, the floral and vanilla notes are getting stronger. Near the end I taste some toast and pepper.


The draw is great and the white ash is very dense. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is decent. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than I remembered but nah.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Cohiba Lancero (vintage)

A few months ago a few friends came over to my place to hang out and smoke a few cigars in my mancave. One of them gave me a Cohiba Lancero with at least 15 years of age on them. Now as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of Cubans but I know that the vintage Cubans are a completely different animal. That’s because back then the tobacco got the time to ferment properly, the cigars got time to marry flavors, the soil wasn’t depleted yet and the strain of tobacco was better and stronger. Add that to my love of lanceros and you’ll understand that I was very pleased with his kind and generous gift.


In 1963 the blend was rolled for the first time and it became the   personal cigar for Fidel Castro and it was only available in this lancero vitola. It didn’t have a brand name until 1966 when the Cohiba name was chosen and it became the official diplomatic cigar for the Cuban government but in 1984 the brand was released officially and became available worldwide except for America. New lines were added and Cohiba became the flagship of the Cuban cigar industry.


This 7.6×38 lancero has a pale, veiny wrapper and it looks a bit crooked. The ring is an old version of the Cohiba ring, no gold, no embossing, no hologram and I bet that if I posted a picture of it in one of the many cigar groups people would scream FAKE. The cigar has a nice triple cap with a small pig tail and it feels evenly packed. I smell a faint hay smell, but there isn’t much aroma to it anymore.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight. An elegant cigar deserves an elegant light, so I grabbed me vintage Ronson varaflame instead of desegregate the cigar by using a flaming hot torch. The flavor is a mild lemon with leather, old flavors, without question this is a vintage cigar. After half an inch I taste gingerbread and some sweetness. Halfway I taste pepper too, still with the sweet gingerbread and a vanilla like sweetness.


The draw is good, not perfect. The smoke is quite thin though, costing points in the final score. The light gray ash isn’t very firm. The burn is good, pretty straight and slow. This medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is very smooth and balanced, subtle as only a vintage cigar can be. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to smoke more, the low score mainly has to do with looks and smoke. Flavors were great. I nubbed it.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Cohiba (Habanos), Cuban cigars, El Laguito | Tags: , , , ,

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