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El Piño Blanco Maduro Robusto

This cigar is only available in The Netherlands, and as far as I know, only in one shop: Tabakado in the city of Eindhoven. And that’s because the cigar is blended by the owner of the shop, Mariska Kelch. I have known Mariska for years, when I started visiting the shop as a sales rep, her father was in charge but he was grooming Mariska to be the chief of the shop and she’s doing great. I saw her progress from just a daughter and employee to a shot caller and I am amazed by her progress.

When the duo met David Blanco, they started talking about creating their own cigar. That resulted in the El Piño Blanco line. Unfortunately, Johan Kelch was not around to see the final product as he suddenly and tragically passed away three years ago, but I know he would be very pleased and very proud of Mariska’s achievements. And while smoking this cigar, I had to think of Johan a lot. He was one of my best accounts, one with a manual though and our conversations always had the same pattern, first Johan would complain about something, then we would have a hard but fair argument before we would do business. Good business, and even though the discussions were hard and heated, we had the utmost respect for each other and liked each other a lot. Johan was also the first retailer to call me and wish me luck on my future path after me and my employer parted ways. I hate that I will never get another chance to smoke a cigar with him.

The cigar looks very nice, the shape is perfect with a well-rounded head, triple cap. I have a feeling that the wrapper is cooked through, in a slurry of tobacco, to make it look darker. When I wet my finger and rub the cigar, my fingers will taint and you can see a lighter shade under dark spots. Now that doesn’t have to mean anything and could be just for aesthetic reasons. And honestly, the cigar looks great. The simple black, green and white ring is clean, the brand name is clear, the tobacco leaf on the ring looks nice. The cigar has a nice touch, I can’t feel any plugs. The smell is medium strong, sawdust and a little bit of manure are what I smell.

The cold draw tastes like raisin, the draw is good though. Right at the get-go, I taste coffee but also a chewy flavor, like portobello mushroom with some leather. After half a centimeter I still taste the mushroom with the leather and some very mild milk chocolate. After a centimeter, I taste hay, dried grass with a bit of American milk chocolate. After a third, the cigar still has the hay with American milk chocolate flavor, but now with some herbs and pepper. When I say American milk chocolate, think Hersey. That’s different than European milk chocolate, a little more chemical. Halfway the cigar gets woody, cedar, with the chewy flavor again and some pepper. In the final third the flavors aren’t muted anymore. I taste wood, milk chocolate, a mild pepper, some herbal flavor. The pepper is getting stronger, now it’s a full-blown Nicaraguan cigar.

The smoke is thick and white. The draw is great. The white ash is beautiful. I had to relight the cigar once, but the burn is sharp. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. This is a nice budget cigar that would is great to have around for the days where you smoke more than one cigar and don’t want to break the bank. This is a medium bodied, medium-full flavored cigar with a strong finish. The smoke time is about two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good budget cigar, always nice to have a bundle in the humidor

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Categories: 89, El Piño Blanco, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Debonaire Habano Robusto

I had heard about Debonaire, yet I had never smoked one. I had smoked Indian Motorcycle cigars though, which are also owned by Phil Zanghi and made at the De Los Reyes factory. And that factory is growing on me with Puros de Hostos, Saga, and Indian Motorcycle, so I had high expectations from this Debonaire Habano.

 


The cigar was recommended to me by several people, people whose opinion matter to me in the cigar industry. People like Mariska from Tabakado for example, who had been trying to get Debonaire distributed in The Netherlands for a while, calling all distributors before one finally decided to pick up the brand and making both Indian Motorcycles and Debonaire available on the Dutch market.

 


The cigar has a nice Colorado colored wrapper that looks a bit rough on the cap though. The ring is big, gold and brown, with white letters. The print quality is high and it gives the cigar a luxurious look. The aroma, barnyard, and swamp, isn’t too strong. Construction wise, the cigar feels a bit hard.

 


The cold draw is a bit on the tight side, yet acceptable, quite spicy with raw tobacco and pepper. After lighting, I taste toast and leather, with a hint of cinnamon. After a few puffs, I taste wood, leather, and grass. After a centimeter, I taste a grassy and woody metallic flavor with a creamy mouthfeel. After a third, I taste a grassy and hay with nutmeg mixture. Halfway I taste toast with cinnamon again. Then the cigar turns to cedar, spice and red chili pepper. The final third its all about pepper and cinnamon, on full blast. Near the end, I also taste hazelnuts.

 


The draw is great. The ash is white and firm, yet the burn I had to correct. The smoke is good. The flavors, medium strength, are mellow and very suitable for Cuban cigar aficionados. The strength is medium too. The smoke time is two hours twenty minutes

.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I won’t. It’s a good cigar, just not for me. I would, however, suggest people to give it a try unless you are into strong, full-flavored, bold, cigars.

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Categories: 89, De Los Reyes, Debonaire, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Room 101 Series SA Robusto

Room 101, that is one of those brands that never really grabbed my attention. I know it is the brand of jewelry designer Matt Booth, who last year said goodbye to the cigar industry just to return a couple of months later in a collaboration with Robert Caldwell. Since the cigars never made it to Europe  I never got in on the Room 101 hype. I don’t know where and how I got this cigar.


The cigar is made in Honduras with a Mexican San Andres natural wrapper, a Honduran binder and filler from both Honduras and the Dominican Republic. If the information I read online is correct, than Christian Eiroa was involved in blending this cigar. I don’t know where the cigars were being rolled though, but I guess at the Camacho factory if Eiroa was involved indeed.


The wrapper is not as dark as you would expect from a San Andres wrapper, but this is not the usual San Andres maduro wrapper, its a natural wrapper. its leathery by look and by touch. The ring is something special, brown with brushed gold, just a face of an ancient Asian statue and the SA letters on the side. The cigar looks good and the head is perfectly rounded. The cigar has a strong smell of barnyard with sawdust.


After cutting the cigar I taste raisin and dry tobacco. The cold draw is fine. After lighting I taste cinnamon and allspice, quite strong. After a few puffs the flavors get smoother and I taste some honey. After a third it’s more a fresh cedar taste with just a little bit of cinnamon. The flavors are quite dry. Halfway I taste something sharp on the tip of my tongue but I can’t put my finger on the exact flavor. When the sharp flavor disappears I taste wood again, with honey, salt and a hint of cinnamon.


The draw is fine. The smoke is medium full in thickness, medium in volume and white of color. The ash is pepper and salt colored. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I was expecting more from this cigar.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Honduran cigars, Rancho Jamastran, Room 101 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Puro Authentico Maduro

Yesterday I wrote about the Man O’ War Puro Authentico Habano Ligero and the same story goes for the maduro. Originally a personal blend for A.J. Fernandez who released the cigars commercially after years of begging from Meier & Dutch.


The blend consists of the same tobacco as the natural, yet with another wrapper. Instead of using a Nicaraguan Habano ligero A.J. Fernandez chose a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro to wrap around the Nicaraguan Habano binder and the Nicaraguan Habano ligero filler for this 5×44 corona.


The wrapper is dark, almost black, dry and a little rough. The ring is simple, just a glossy black with the silhouette of the Man O’ War mask. I love closed foots and a pigtail, so this cigar fits right up my alley. The aroma is medium strong, like dark chocolate in a farm field.


After cutting the cigar I try the cold draw. Surprisingly it’s good, even with the closed foot. I taste a little sweetness and a lot of spice. After lighting I taste a sweet earthy leather flavor. Soon I taste spice and pepper. After an inch I taste sweetness and pepper. Slowly the sweetness disappears while the pepper gets stronger and an earthy flavor shows up too.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick, beautiful white of color. The ash is white too. The burn is great. The cigar is strong, full bodied yet medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Meh

Score: 89

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

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Puro Authentico Ligero

The Puro Authentico from the Man O’ War series were actually created as a personal blend for A.J. Fernandez and it took Meier & Dutch three years to convince A.J. to release these small cigars, a 5×44 corona, commercially. Both the natural, which I’m reviewing today, and the maduro, which will be reviewed tomorrow, are for sale nowadays in ten count boxes.


The natural version of the Man O’ War Puro Authentico Corona is made from Nicaraguan Habano ligero filler with a Nicaraguan Habano binder. The blend is the same as the maduro version, the difference is in the wrapper, which in this case is a Nicaraguan Habano ligero.


The oily wrapper is dark, if someone gave me this cigar and said it was the maduro version, I would have believed it. Only when I put it next to the maduro I see a slight difference. The ring is different from the other Man O’ War cigars, just a small glossy black ring with a golden silhouette of the Man O’ War mask. The cigar comes with a closed foot and a small pigtail, so that’s a plus. I smell a mild, peppery chocolate aroma.


The cold draw is non existing because of the closed foot. I taste chocolate and marzipan. After lighting I taste espresso, strong, bold espresso. After a few puffs I taste sugar. After an inch I taste an earthy flavor, coffee and wood. After a third some cinnamon joins the flavors. Halfway it’s earthy, with a little sugar and quite some pepper. Near the end it’s just earthy and peppery.


The draw is good, the medium thick smoke is white. The ash is dark, it’s not firm. The burn is great. The cigar is medium flavored, full bodied. Even though it’s a thin cigar and not too long, the smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? They come in the sampler, I want a few samplers so yeah.

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

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: , , , , , , ,

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: , , ,

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