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Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Torpedo

In the first part of 2008 Meier & Dutch together with A.J. Fernandez released what would become one of their success stories, the Man O’ War line, that has sprouted in many more lines and side projects in the last decade, but this blend with Nicaraguan filler, Honduran Habano binder and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper started it all.


The cigar comes in six different vitolas, from a 6×44 corona to a 7.1×58 salomon with a 7 1/2×52 double corona 5 1/2×50 robusto, a 6 1/2×52 toro and a 6.1×54 torpedo. I’m smoking the torpedo as that was the one in the Man O’ War anthology sampler.


The wrapper is a nice, medium dark, brown, in between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. The ring is the regular Man O’ War ring like described two days ago. The cigar feels good and is well finished. It has a medium strong, deep, spicy and peppery aroma.


Due to the vitola I have no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste a little peppery raising flavor. After lighting I taste wood, coffee and a little nutmeg. After a centimeter the basic flavor is wood, with nutmeg, cinnamon and ground black pepper. The pepper is getting stronger with a bit of vegetable flavor joining the wood as a base aroma. After a third I taste soil with some sweetness too. The cigar gets stronger, more woody, more peppery.


The draw is great. The smoke, with a little brown glow, is thick and full. The ash has that same brown tarnish as the smoke. The burn is straight, the cigar is full bodied and full flavored. I smoked slow and it took me two hours to finish the cigar.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe, if they are on sale.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Side Project Phalanx

The next 9 days I will be working my way through the beautiful Man O’ war Anthology sampler, a 9 cigar sampler with several Man O’ War blends and vitolas, released by Meier & Dutch and made in Esteli, Nicaragua by the famous cigar blender and factory owner Abdel ‘A.J.’ Fernandez.


The first cigar is the 6 1/2×56 Man O’ War Side Project Phalanx, made with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, an Habano binder from Honduras and Habano fillers from both Nicaragua and Honduras. The cigar was originally released early 2012, I have no idea what the box code of this sampler is, but it has aged for minimum of two years.


The cigar looks intimidating, a dark, almost black, dull, leathery wrapper, add the big ring gauge and the length, the ring with the warrior with the metal mask in a brushed golden color, the red mohawk and an additional ring in black with gray blue banner saying Phalanx. The construction feels good, the cigar is well finished. The aroma surprises me, the cigar smells the way it looks, like dry leather and it’s not that strong.


The cold draw is a bit tight after cutting the cigar. I taste some gingerbread in the cold draw. After lighting I taste soil with gingerbread. After three puffs that gingerbread is gone, I’m stuck with the muddy soil. After half a centimeter the gingerbread is back.  After a third I taste wood with some sweetness, aspertam like, and a little spice in the aftertaste. Halfway the flavors are a bit milder and there’s a bit of a low quality milk chocolate too. Slowly some spices show up, some pepper and cumin. The base flavor is woody. Near the end I taste licorice and some mint.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium thick but not exactly white.  The ash is though, and its firm too. The burn is amazing. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. There isn’t enough evolution to satisfy me. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like the cigar but dislike the vitola, it’s too thick for me.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ave Maria Barbarossa

Now when you read the sales pitch of this cigar you’re expectations will be raised since a few other cigar manufacturers, not affiliated with either this brand, Meier & Dutch, or A.J. Fernandez praised this cigar. So my curiosity led me to buying a few of those cigars including this 7×48 Churchill that is named Barbarossa.


The cigar, made in Esteli at the A.J. Fernandez factory, is created with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler and an Habano wrapper from Ecuador. The cigar comes in ten different vitolas, ranging from a corona up to a 7.1×60 salomones and everything in between, parejo’s, figurados, a range so wide that most people will find a vitola to their liking.


The medium brown, smooth wrapper has a reddish glow, something I like. There is also a little tooth. The ring is amazing, a nice shape, a knight in a white shirt with a red cross, like the knights from the crusades, detailed, high quality prints, its great. The cigar feels evenly packed, the triple cap is well placed. The aroma is medium strong, hay, straw with a little ammonia is what I smell


After cutting I taste a very spicy and peppery cold draw, which is a little loose. After lighting I taste nutmeg, cinnamon and cedar. After a third I taste wood with white pepper and herbal flavors. The wood becomes stronger, the pepper gets milder. In the final third I taste a flavor that I can’t place, it’s a warm, creamy flavor that is a little woody but not full on wood.


The smoke is amazing, thick, full, voluminous. The draw is a little loose, but not too much to complain. The ash is light colored. The burn is not great but not bad either. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not a bad cigar, I won’t turn one down but buying? There are more and better options out there for me.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte Robusto

Before I started working in the industry, I think that was about 2011, me and my cigar smoking friends from The Netherlands were always looking for the latest finds from My Father and A.J. Fernandez that weren’t available here in The Netherlands, and the La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte was one of them. One of my friends, Jan, ordered a box and shared some with me, I think this specific cigar is a few years old by now.


The cigar is made by A.J. Fernandez at his factory in Esteli, like all cigars that I’m reviewing this month. The cigar, in this case a 5 1/2×54 robusto, is made from Nicaraguan filler and binder with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. As the name suggests, the wrapper is very dark and the cigar is probably quite strong.


The cigar is dark, leathery and oily. The ring is white with light brown, gold and copper detailing and logo, and it says La Herencia Cubana. Then there is a secondary ring that looks like the classic Cuban regional edition ring yet in green and silver instead of red and silver as the Cubans do. The cigar feels kind of hard but without any soft spots, the shape and the cap look nice. Even after all these years, the cigar has a strong aroma of a barnyard and a stable full of cows.


I was in the mood for a bold cigar and I expect this to fit my needs. I used a cheap plastic cutter. The cold draw is a little tight, I taste a mild milk chocolate flavor with pepper. After lighting I taste a dry earthy flavor with coffee. The earthy flavor is the dominant flavor but there is also a hint of cocoa. After a third I taste a buttery, sticky yet mild and slightly bitter chocolate with some wood and herbs. Slowly I taste some mint too. Halfway I taste wood, oak, with a little acidity. The end has a little black pepper.


The draw is good. The ash is medium dark and a little flaky. The smoke is medium thick and full. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, La Herencia Cubana, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , ,

Blue Ribbon Robusto

A few years ago I was at Corona Cigar in Orlando smoking cigars with friends and one of them said “you like Drew Estate right? Try this one” and hands me a cigar I had never heard of, Blue Ribbon, and says “these are bundle cigars by Drew Estate, they are nice” but somehow this cigar ended up in my stash instead of being smoked, that will change today as I’m about to review the cigars.


I googled them to see the blend, which is all Nicaraguan filler and binder with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and I’m shocked by the price. A bundle of 20 of these 5×50 robusto cigars will set you back little over 30 dollars, that’s $1.50 each so if these cigars score high they are a great humidor filler.


The wrapper is dark, it almost looks like a maduro wrapper, oily and smooth. This looks much better than the average cheap bundle cigar. The construction feels good with a nicely placed cap. The ring is simple yet nice, blue with silver, rigged edges, clear silver letters and a nice print quality. Just based on the looks these cigars could be boxed up and sold for more than a $1.50 a piece bundle. The aroma is strong, mint, tar and manure.


I used my Xikar butterfly cutter to decap the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. The flavors I taste are quite sour. After lichting I taste lemon, coffee and icing sugar. The sugar is becoming the dominant flavor with pepper on the background. After a third it’s sweetness, wood and a little pepper. Slowly the cigar gets spicier and stronger. The final third starts with more wood, the icing sugar is less strong. The end is very peppery.


The draw is perfect. The light colored ash is white and firm. The burn is razor sharp. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume, very unlike the smoke bombs Drew Estate usually drops. This is a medium bodied cigar, medium flavored too. The evolution is subtle and the balance is good. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I can find them! Fantastic budget cigar.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Blue Ribbon, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

5 Vegas Classico, Gold, Gold Maduro & A

I have four different 5 Vegas cigars in my stash and I wanted to review them, but ran into the problem that I just don’t know enough about the cigars to write individual reviews. The information on internet is also confusing, but what they all have in common is that th brand is owned by Cigars International or Meier & Dutch, which is the wholesale division of Cigars International and that they have the cigars made, probably by several different factories as some are said to be Dominican and others are said to be Nicaraguan.

As I said, I have four different blends, but also four different vitolas, so it will be hard or impossible to decide what’s the best blend after reading the four reviews, that would only be fair if the vitolas would have been the same. Don’t draw any conclusions on the results of my testing, just read them as entertainment and maybe get some of these cigars if my review made you curious.

5 Vegas Classic Torpedo

This Nicaraguan made cigar has Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers, and a medium brown Sumatra wrapper with tooth and a leather feel. The shape of the head is amazing, never seen a torpedo so pointy. The ring is classic, simple but printed on high quality, glossy paper. Its a red circle with white and golden outlines, some details in gold and 5 Vegas in white. The construction feels great, and that shape, awesome. The cigar has a strong aroma to barnyard with milk chocolate.


Because of the shape I have no option but to cut the cigar and I used my Xikar butterfly cutter for it. The cold draw is fine and I taste dry, well fermented tobacco, mild spicy. After lighting I taste coffee, a nice tasty coffee. After a few puffs I  taste fresh wood with coffee and cinnamon. After a third I taste cinnamon with a little citrus and some wood and a carrot like flavor. Then the flavor changes to a mild milk chocolate with cedar, cinnamon, lime and honey. The final third starts with nuts and pepper. Then all of a sudden a floral flavor shows up with some white pepper.


The draw is great. The dense ash is white. The burn is good. The smoke is medium thick and full. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? I might, depending on the price.

Score: 90
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5 Vegas A Artisan (Robusto)


The 5 Vegas A is a bit of a confusing name, since A is also a vitola but this line, which is made in Nicaragua with a Costa Rican Maduro wrapper, comes in different vitolas, including an A. The wrapper is dark and oily with one fat vein at the back of the cigar. The construction feels good and the cap is nicely placed. Both rings look goo, the foot ring is gold with a white square with triple A on it while the regular ring is like the classic 5 Vegas logo but black and gold instead of red and gold and the ring is bitter making room for an additional A underneath the logo. Classy. The cigar has a nice, medium strong aroma that reminded me to my last trip at the zoo, when I walked into the primate encounter.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is good, spicy tobacco is what I taste. After lighting with a single jet I taste coffee. And after a few puffs I taste pepper too. Slowly some caramel shows up with pepper while the coffee fades away. There’s also a little acidity. After a third I also taste some wood. Halfway I taste a nice dark wood with a toffee flavor and some pepper. I also taste some dark chocolate. The flavors slowly turn to wood with spices and pepper, the mouth feeling is dry.


The draw is good. The smoke is good too, medium full in thickness and volume. The ash is decent, medium gray. The burn is straight. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The evolution is good.


Would I buy this cigar again? I should.

Score: 91
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5 Vegas Gold Maduro Corona

 


Now this is a cigar of which I know a little more, it is made by Plasencia in Nicaragua. The cigar is made with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Honduran binder and Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. The wrapper is sturdy, thick, dark and rustic. It looks rough but in a good way, like you know you’ll get flavor from it. The construction feels good. The ring is great, great quality printing on beautiful glossy paper with nice colors. I see copper, gold, shades of brown and white, very detailed and it fits with the rustic wrapper. The aroma is a mixture of fresh wood chips and barnyard.


I used a butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is nice, mild acidic yet peppery. After lighting I taste coffee and chocolate powder. Soon the flavors change to a dark wood with herbs and some Maduro sweetness. After an inch I taste wood with some Maduro sweetness and a bit of a vanilla floral flavor. The flavors are dry. The cigar gets more herbal, more peppery yet the mild vanilla floral flavor remains on the background.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick and full. The light colored ash is a bit frayed. The burn is good, pretty straight. This is a medium bodied and medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is almost an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again?  Meh, decent cigar but nothing more than that.

Score: 88
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5 Vegas Gold Toro

This 5 1/2×55 box pressed Toro is made in Honduras with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over a Honduran binder and Honduran fillers. The wrapper looks pale but smooth. The ring doesn’t help much to lift up the pale color of the wrapper because the wrapper is a two tone gold with just a tiny bit of white and red and makes the appearance of the cigar even more bland. The construction feels good and the cigar is nicely finished. The medium strong aroma reminds me of a flog of sheep that just took a dump.


I used a xikar cutter to cut the cigar. The draw is great, I taste dry grass with a little kick. After lighting I taste a mild coffee and dirt flavor. After half an inch I taste a floral flavor with a little salt. After a third I taste a salty cedar, very mild and smooth, with just a hint of the Connecticut Shade mustiness. Near the end I get more pepper.


The draw is flawless, the smoke is nice and thick. The light gray ash is firm. This is a mild to medium bodied and flavored cigar with a nice burn. The cigar is smooth yet lacks evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? This is too mild for me.

Score: 87
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Categories: 5 Vegas, 88, 90, 91, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Manuel Schirra Torpedo

Now this cigar was a mystery to me, and at the time of writing still is a mystery although I managed to find some information on this brand. I had this cigar in my humidor for a few years and every time I saw it I was intrigued, not by the looks or the ring, although it stands out, but by the fact that I didn’t know anything about the cigar, never even heard of the brand so today it was time to fire google up and see what I could find.


One a message board I learned that this cigar is a house blend for a shop in Las Vegas called Cigarbox, owned by Freyboy Tobacco. Now I have been to Las Vegas but I haven’t been to that specific shop, I only stopped at Casa Fuente and the now not longer existing Pheasant Cigars, so this cigar must have been a gift. It is rumored to be a Nicaraguan pro but the blend and the factory are unknown to me.


The cigar looks good, a nice medium brown wrapper with a reddish glow to it, no real veins. The construction feels good too and the tip is sharp. The ring, as I said in the intro, is unique. It shows the face of a man, and says Havana Cuba but on the side of the ring it says Nicaragua, and since it’s a house blend for an American shop it’s safe to say that this is not a Cuban cigar. Even though the ring is clearly professionally printed the design looks like its home made and a little discolored by time and somehow I really like this ring because it makes me curious, very curious. The aroma is very mild and I smell hay and straw.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste a little mint, some sultana and dry tobacco. I lit the cigar with my old Ronson and I taste coffee, full and strong. After half an inch I also taste spices and cedar. After an inch I taste toast with pepper and spices. Halfway the cigar is dry, I taste cedar, toast, cinnamon, pepper and a little lime and mint. The last third starts work more honey sweetness. The cinnamon gets stronger and the only flavor

that I taste, I like it a lot.

The draw is fine. The salt and pepper colored ash is firm. The smoke is medium to full in thickness and volume. The burn is good, not perfect as it’s a little crooked. This is a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar with a nice evolution. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Depending on the price, but if I ever happen to be in Vegas I will look up the lounge.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Manuel Schirra, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Uppercut by Punch Robusto

In 2008 or 2009 Punch had a competition between test blends they released and the winner would be officially released. And this Uppercut by Punch was the winner. As far as I know the cigar is made in Honduras with Nicaraguan filler, including some Ometepe, a Nicaraguan binder and an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Since I don’t see them being sold anywhere and the special website is offline I’m guessing it was either a limited edition or not the success that General Cigars hoped for.


I love the name, for two reasons. First a punch is a hit and so is an uppercut plus that it’s won a competition between test blends, another ‘fight’ reference. Knock Out by Punch could have been a great name too, or a follow up. I don’t know where I got or bought this cigar, I don’t know when but I know it must have been a few years ago since the cellophane is starting to discolor and become yellow. I’m smoking the 5 1/2×50 robusto sized cigar. There were two other vitolas too.


As I said, the cellophane is starting to turn yellow from the oils in the dark and rustic Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, which is quite bumpy. The construction feels evenly packed with a nice flat head and beautifully placed triple cap. The cigar has two rings, the foot ring has a panoramic picture of the Ometepe volcano in Nicaragua with a black band underneath saying Ometepe with golden letters and golden linings on both sides of the black band and above the volcano. The top ring is dark blue with thick golden outlines, then a golden crown and the word Uppercut above a small red circle with golden letters Punch. The cigar has a mild dusty chocolate aroma.


I cut the cigar with my xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is great and I taste raw tobacco and dried grapes. After lighting the cigar with my torch (single jet) I taste coffee with sugar and some lemon. After a quarter of an inch I taste some peanuts. After an inch all I taste is salt, peanuts and some chocolate. The flavors slowly change to salty peanuts with lemon and pepper, quite a lot of chili peper. The final third starts with cedar and nuts with quite some pepper. I get dark chocolate with pepper some puffs later.


The draw is amazing and the smoke is thick and full. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is straight as can be. This is a medium full bodied and full flavored cigar with a smoke time of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This was a decent cigar and I read it was cheap so I would get a few.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Punch | Tags: , , ,

La Aurora 100 Años Belicoso

La Aurora is the oldest cigar factory, founded in 1903 and they wanted to celebrate their century long existence with a limited edition cigar, the cien años, of the 100 años for the non Spanish speaking cigar enthousiasts. The cigar wasn’t released till 2004 though due to delays at the factory and the right wrapper not being available, well, not in the quality the blenders wanted. The cigar was made with tobacco from 1996, all Dominican.


The demand was so high that in 2012 La Aurora did a small re-release of the blend, with a 4 year old Dominican Corojo wrapper. And with small I mean 20.000 cigars of the Belicoso, 20.000 Robustos and 20.000 Churchill sized cigars. The cigar that I’ll be reviewing probably comes from the second release, the 2012 release and I got it as a gift from a friend at my favorite cigar forum Cigar Asylum.


The 6 1/4×52 Belicoso has a silky Dominican Corojo wrapper that is oily but also rough looking with a few major veins that haven’t been flattened before being used, too bad as that would made the cigar much better looking. The construction feels good yet the cap isn’t applied very neatly. The ring is beautiful, beautiful beige and brown colors with a detailed drawing of a lion and the factory name and line name in a modest font and color. Underneath is a second ring with a production number, much like Padron does with their 1928, 1964 and Family Reserve lines. I’m smoking #166571, but unfortunately there is no website where you can check the numbers for the batch #, the roller etc, that would be extremely cool. The aroma is still strong, dry hay, barnyard, stable and a little bit of ammonia like acidity.


I cut the cigar, as usual with my Xikar XI2 cutter. The cold draw is fantastic and leaves a spicy cedar flavor with some pepper on my lips.  After lighting I taste a smooth coffee and nutmeg flavor, very tasty. After a few puffs I taste coffee with spicy green herbs. After half an inch the coffee disappears and the cigar bites a little on my tongue. After an inch o taste leather with pepper, strong bold flavors. After a third I taste carrots with pepper, it’s a flavor I taste every now and then in a cigar but it’s rare. I also taste a very faint chocolate. The final third starts with the carrots and an earthy flavor with pepper on the background and aftertaste. That’s also the flavor combination till I lay the cigar till rest.


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is great, it’s thick, white and a good volume. The light colored ash is beautiful and firm. I had to touch up the burn a few times. There is a lot of evolution. The cigar is medium bodied but full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Impossible I guess, unless there is another release. And I would get a fiver then.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, La Aurora, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , ,

601 Oscuro La Punta

601, its not an old brand but in its short existence it has build up quote a following and a history. The brand was started by EO Brands, the company of Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega, blended by José ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and made by My Father Cigars, first at the El Rey de Los Habano factory in Miami and later in the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Then EO Brands split up, 601 disappeared, but then returned as part of Espinosa Cigars, reblended, new design box and ring, made at La Zona and in december 2016 the news broke that the production will be moved from Espinosa’s own La Zona factory to the San Lotano Factory from A.J. Fernandez in Ocotal Nicaragua, which he recently bought from Fidel Oliva. And that’s the short version of the 601 history.


Back to the cigar, the 601 Oscuro La Punta is a perfecto, 5 1/2×52 in size and I am smoking an old one with the oldest label know so I think it must be about 10 years old. It is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano Oscuro wrapper. I think this cigar was given to me at one of the EPIC herfs in Ocala Florida, a yearly weekend herf which originated from Cigar Asylum, my favorite cigar board.


The cellophane on the cigar has a nice golden brown color from the oils from the wrapper that have been leaking into the cellophane for years. Let me start with the ring, I wonder if I should score on the ring since the line has been revamped with new design rings, but I’ll score it anyway. I like the shape, the green color is a nice contrast with the white 601 and the white banner uses the same green for the word obscure. The golden lines make it all pop. The design is a bit outdated but Erik Espinosa took care of that. The wrapper is dark, very dark and leathery with hardly any visible veins.  The construction is flawless, I have never seen a perfecto with a cap so beautiful as this one and the cigar feels evenly filled. The aroma is medium full and reminds me of straw and manure.


Because of the shape I decide to cut the cigar xikar style. The cold draw is a bit tight but that could be because of the shape. I taste a spicy and peppery raisin flavor. The moment I light the cigar I taste pepper with dark coffee and a little sweetness. After a few puffs I taste some raw unrefined cocoa powder. After an inch I taste wood with a little lime and far on the background a little cocoa. Halfway the flavors are dry, I taste wood and a little cocoa. Right before the final third starts I taste the pepper again and it’s the Pepin pepper that was his signature back in the day. I still taste wood too and a little walnut. The final few puffs are very peppery and I’m loving it.


The draw is fine, better than the cold draw. The smoke is quite thin though. The burn is fantastic. The light colored ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied at best and medium flavored too. The smoke time is a little over an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to try a reblended one.

Score: 90
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Categories: 601, 90, La Zona, My Father Cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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