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Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Virtue Torpedo

Last year, in september, I reviewed the same cigar. I did that before I came up with the idea to review this complete sampler but I’m not going to change my plans because of that older review, let’s just call this a quick redux.


The Man O’ War Virtue line was releases only two years after the Man O’ War brand came to life, and it was the third blend that got released. The regular Man O’ War and the Man O’ War Ruination were strong cigars, this Man O’ War Virtue, with the Nicaraguan Habano filler and binder and the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper was in a different league, the league of mild to medium cigars.


The light colored, almost pale, wrapper looks dry and brittle. The ring is the same as the other Man O’ War rings but in white and silver, making it more difficult to see what the picture is. The cigar is well made, it feels good and looks good. It has a medium strong hay and ammonia aroma.


The cold draw is fine, I taste dry, mild sweet and mild acidic raisin and tobacco. After lighting I taste a metallic dirt aroma. There’s also that classic Connecticut Shade mustiness. After the metallic dirt disappears I taste cedar, mild sweet, with that classic mustiness and a bit of black pepper. The flavors remain practically the same all around, except for a little metallic flavor returning at the end and the pepper grew in strength. In the dying seconds I taste some nuts too.


The draw is a bit loose and the cigar produces a lot of smoke. The salt and peppered colored ash is firm and pretty. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s a classic Connecticut Shade, which I don’t appreciate

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Corojo Robusto

Yesterday I posted a review of the Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Habano robusto and today I’m publishing the second offering from the three blend Spirit of Cuba series, a Cuban sandwich style cigar from Honduras which is very budget friendly. And I hope I like this one better because I only want to write good things about Alec Bradley, since they are great people, a great company and have been nothing but good to me. Yet, with my experience with budget cigars and the Spirit of Cuba Habano I’m afraid that smoking this cigar isn’t going to be a ride to heaven.


Just like the habano, this cigar is a Cuban sandwich style cigar, that means both longfiller and shortfiller as a filler. And the filler comes from Nicaragua and Honduras, the binder is Honduran and the wrapper, corojo as the name suggests, comes from Nicaragua.


When I grab the cigar I noticed that the ring is almost the same but black instead of soft yellow and that makes the ring look much better, classier and more expensive. The wrapper is even a shade darker too with a nice shine from the oils. The cigar feels like velvet and it is well packed. The aroma is medium strong and it reminds me of dark chocolate with a little bit of pepper.


I used a dual blade guillotine cutter to open the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste dry herbs. After lighting I taste coffee. Slowly it changes to cedar with herbal aromas. The final third is more vegetable with pepper, quite nice. Near the end I taste salted peanuts.


The draw is great, but then again, it’s a medium filler so that’s not a surprise. The ash is quite dark. The smoke is medium full. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The evolution is what I expected from a budget cigar, not too much. The burn is good. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is not a bad budget cigar.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas

Joya Black Toro

Earlier I wrote a review on the Joya Black Robusto and it scored a decent 89 and with that score it won’t make my top 25 of 2017, that’s for sure. I did smoke a few other Joya’s too this year like the Red Half Corona, original release Cuatro Cinco and the Rosalones Reserva plus La Sagrada Familia, Fratello and Sobremesa that are made at the Joya factory and they all scored good ratings from 89 and up. And I must say, from all the factories I visited in Esteli I like the peace and quiet at Joya best, the place has a tranquility and an atmosphere that is unique and that I haven’t found at any of the other factories I visited (including Oliva, Padron, La Zona, My Father, Drew Estate, Rocky Patel, A.J. Fernandez, Plasencia and Aromas de Jalapa). Now I’m not saying the other factories aren’t nice, every factory has their own vibe and charm, but to me Joya stands out.

 


The cigar is the first Joya de Nicaragua cigar with a Mexican San Adres Negro wrapper and the rest of the cigar is Nicaraguan. According to Mario Perez the idea behind the blend is to mix the Nicaraguan filler and binder with the specific characteristics of the Mexican wrapper without the cigar becoming overpowering and be like a little stronger version of the so popular Joya Red, the cigar that broke with the classic tradition of the Joya brand to catch a new, younger & hipper crowd and succeeded so well.

 


I smoked the 6×52 toro that I got at Intertabac 2016 and once I unwrap the cigar from the cellophane I smell dark chocolate with some pepper, very unusual but nice. The construction is beautiful although at the back of the cigar the triple cap is a bit uneven.  The dark wrapper is shiny from the oil and has a long vein running along the side of the cigar. The ring is modern, just like the Joya Red ring actually and they remind me of each other, except for the color, which is pitch black with a silver lining and Joya logo, blue lining to break the black and white letters saying Joya Black. Modern, sleek, clear, simple, I like it.

 


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is just fine. I taste some mild mixture of hay, dark chocolate and raisin. After I lit the cigar with the last bit of butane I had left in my Ronson I taste a mild acidic and sweet coffee. After a quarter of an inch I taste coffee with pepper. The cigar name is black but the flavor is also dark. Slowly the cigar gets a little spicier with earthy flavors. After a thirds it’s still a very earthy cigar with a little lime, some salt, pepper and peanuts. The pepper slowly gains some strength and I also taste a faint hint of dark chocolate. Halfway the pepper slows down again, the peanuts have gone and I’m back to earthy and citrusy flavors with a hint of dark chocolate. After that the cigar slowly get more sweetness. At the end I taste nuts again.

 


The smoke is medium thick and a bit grayish. The ash is beautiful, white, dense and firm. The draw is great. The cigar is medium plus bodied and flavored. The burn is slow and straight. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe, but only in the fall or winter.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Brun del Re Colonial Robusto

Brun del Re is a Costa Rican cigar company that focusses mainly on the European market but they do have a small presence on American soil too. Their factory is in San Jose, Costa Rica and I don’t know if they grown their own tobacco, but they use Costa Rican tobacco in their cigars for sure.


According to Brun del Re this Colonial is the strongest offering they have. Made with a Costa Rican maduro wrapper, an Indonesian binder and filler from Nicaragua and Costa Rica this cigar is supposed to please experienced smokers. I think I got this cigar at one of the Intertabac trade shows, but I can’t recall what year. I know I have aged this cigar for a minimum of two years in my own humidor.


The wrapper is dark, but that’s no surprise when you know that its a maduro cigar. It feels leathery and isn’t the best looking wrapper I’ve seen. The ring is red with gold and tiny, white letters in a curly font. The combination of the colors, the font and the size make the label hard to read and the details are too fine for the print so it looks like a gold blob. The construction feels good, the cap is reasonable, all by all with the construction, ring and wrapper this cigar isn’t the prettiest cigar I’ve seen, but flavor could make up for that. The cigar has a mild smell of dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good, relatively spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste earthy and coffee flavors with a hint of cocoa. The flavor is quite consistent in the first third. Halfway some citrus acidity shows up, it reminds me of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. I also start to taste oak, and with the yuzu and earthy flavors it’s actually very pleasant. In the final third I taste more cocoa.


The draw is good. The firm ash is gray and black. The smoke is good, nice, white and thick. The burn is great. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it. The lack of evolution caused the score to be low but the flavors are nice.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Brun del Re, Costa Rican cigars | Tags: , , ,

Casa Turrent 1901 Robusto

The Turrent Family might be best known for the Te Amo and A. Turrent brands, cigars that are made in cooperation with Altadis, but within the industry they are recognized as growers of the best Mexican tobacco for over a century and only started producing cigars of their own, the Te Amo lines, in the midst of last century.


In 2015 they released a line of cigars without the help of Altadis, Casa Turrent and in a couple of different blends, all referring to a year that is important in the history of the family. I think the 1901 is the birth year of Alexandro Turrent’s grandfather, the 1942 is the birth year of his father and the 1973 is his own year of birth. For this review I am smoking the 1901 robusto in a round version, according to some info on the internet there should be box pressed versions too for some markets.


When I release the cigar from the cellophane I see a beautiful dark but rustic wrapper and if I didn’t know that it’s a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper I would have guessed it was Brazilian. The construction feels good and the rings are fantastic. Glossy golden edges, brushed golden inside with embossing and a small red banner with golden letters Casa Turrent. The second ring is again a mix of glossy and brushed gold saying series 1901. High quality print work. The aroma is medium full and it’s a dark aroma of manure and autumn forrest smells.


I used a double guillotine cutter to take the cap off. The cold draw is fine, mild peppery, white pepper to be more specific. After lighting I taste moss and coffee with some sugar sweetness. After a centimeter I taste spices like spices gingerbread cookies. The flavors aren’t very clean or crisp, they feel a bit muted. Nice but muted. After a third I taste some ground pepper and chocolate. The flavors don’t change much, the cigar just becomes a tad bit sweeter. The cigar has a flavor profile that I would call autumn, not peppery but nice spices like cinnamon, all spice and that kind of flavor. French toast comes to mind too, with a little pepper. Near the end I taste a lot of pepper and some licorice.


The draw is great, the smoke is great too. Thick, plentiful and white. The burn is a bit off and needed a touch up. The salt & pepper colored ash shows clear layers. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored, smooth cigar, well balanced and with a subtle evolution. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I might, it’s a decent cigar.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Mexican cigars, Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos, Turrent | Tags: , , ,

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: , , ,

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