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El Baton Double Toro

A few months ago I was gifted four cigars made by J.C. Newman and it made me look into that company a bit more. Those cigars were the El Baton Double torpedo, Perla del Mar Maduro G, the Brick House Connecticut Toro and this one. There was a reason I was never really interested in that company and never even had visited them on my trips to Tampa and that was loyalty. My previous employer distributed J.C. Newman for a while in the past, sold more than they expected and instead of being happy and working with my employer J.C. Newman came up with crazy new demands, stopped the line of credit and it eventually ended up in a law suit that Newman lost yet the relationship was killed. Sales never bounced back up either, not with STG nor with Davidoff who have distributed them since.


While looking into Newman I learned that they have a huge history, in Tampa with their factory and a private cigar museum, close ties with the Fuente family and that they are the first people to pack cigars in cellophane which is now an industry standard expect for Cuba. I also learned that they started a factory in Nicaragua in 2010, where I was under the impression they had cigars made for them like many others. The company actually started in 1895 in Ohio with a home made table and $50 worth of tobacco. It took 60 years and two world wars before the company settled in Tampa, where it still remains.


Just like Oliva, J.C. Newman calls this 6×60 a double toro, while I would call it a gordo. It’s a vitola that I don’t like, never have and probably never will but I will try new cigars in that size anyway when asked. The ring is the same as on the previous El Baton review, but its the same blend so there’s no surprise. The wrapper is a bit lighter in color, yet its still quite dark with a few veins. Construction wise there’s nothing wrong, the cigar feels good, looks good, cap is good, just a well made cigar. The aroma is of dark wood and stable, like being inside an old wooden barn.


I used my cutter for this big ring cigar, mainly because I couldn’t find my punch. The cold draw is fine, I taste a mild gingerbread with pepper. I taste gingerbread, coffee and sugar after lighting. After half an inch I taste nutmeg, spices, wood and pepper. After I drank some water I taste a lot of salt. After a third I taste salt, wood and pepper. Halfway the pepper is getting stronger and stronger. Then all of a sudden the pepper almost disappears and I’m left with salty wood. In the final third the pepper returns again.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium full, it’s light gray. The light gray ash is dense and firm. The burn is good. This cigar is full flavored and bodied. The cigar has a good evolution. The smoke time is 2 hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a great cigar, just a little too thick for me.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, El Baton, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA | Tags: , , , ,

Desconicido Corona

My friend Andrew Wood, who is a cigar broker and helps companies to bring their cigars into the USA and who’s on the forefront of the fight against the FDA, started his career in tobacco with GDW cigars, a small Nicaraguan factory that produces a few cigars including the Reserva Miraflor & the Don Fernando. One of the cigars they made but I had never smoked was this Desconocido. And now they are back, only for sale through www.untoldleaf.com so I finally had the opportunity to try one.


Andrew said that he loved this cigar and that it was likely his favorite, yet I see that it’s made with a Connecticut Shade wrapper and that makes me weary, that’s a wrapper I don’t care much about. The binder is a Nicaraguan Habano and the filler is all Nicaraguan too. The size of the cigar is 5 1/2×42.


The cigar has an oily, yellow brown wrapper, a little more color than most of the Connecticut Shade cigars I have seen. I see thin veins and a bright red ring with black letters in a curly font. The construction feels good, the cigar feels evenly packed with a nice rounded cap. The aroma is relatively strong, it reminds me of fresh cut wet grass.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is perfect and sweet, marzipan like, with a spicy aftertaste. After lighting I taste a strong full coffee. After a quarter of an inch I taste a sour flavor but also some vanilla. After a third I taste peanuts with a mild mustiness from the Connecticut Shade wrapper. Halfway I still taste peanuts with some pepper and honey. Near the end I also taste some vanilla again.


The draw is great. The smoke is light gray. The ash is medium gray in color. The burn is straight. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not my cigar but if you’re into mild cigars this is a must try, especially with 30% off if you use the CIGARGUIDE code

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Desconocido, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

La Sirena Merino Robusto

In 2009 Arielle Ditkowich started La Sirena cigars with a cigar made at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua and three years later she released the second La Sirena line, the La Sirena Merlion made on the Dominican Republic at the La Aurora factory which isn’t a surprise because back then the cigars were distributed by Nestor Miranda’s Miami Cigar & Co, who’s the distributer of La Aurora in the USA, and has a few private labels made by My Father. So the connections are all there.


I met Arielle briefly when I visited Miami Cigar & Co a few years ago and she handed me this Merlion Robusto. I had smoked the My Father made La Sirena cigar but never this one and it’s time to do it now. The cigar is made with Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Brazilian binder and a corona from Ecuador wrapper.  La Sirena released two more lines, the Oceano and the Old School, the last one is made at NATSA where the Oceano is made at Quesada on the Dominican Republic. Or at least, were made by? Since 2014 there have been stories that La Sirena would move production to La Zona, but the La Sirena website still mentions NATSA, La Aurora and My Father.


The wrapper is a nice reddish brown, soft to the touch with a nice shine and a few thin veins. The ring is amazing, only shaped and huge with lots of shiny silver and just a little red and blue with a drawing of a mythical creature, a mermaid lion mix, a merlion. And since my wife a native Singaporean I have a connection with merlions, as that is the most famous statue of Singapore. The cigar has a mild manure aroma and the construction feels good, evenly packed , the shape is good and the cap is nice.


I used my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is a little loose, mild peppery and woody. After lighting I taste a strong coffee flavor with a little cedar. After a third I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with a nutty flavor and a slightly stronger pepper. The final third is spicier, with more pepper and a hint of chocolate.


The draw is good. The smoke is white with a grayish glow, it’s medium thick and full. The burn is razor sharp. The salt & pepper colored ash is firm. The cigar had a few years of age and it shows, as it’s very mellow and smooth. Medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? A single or maybe a fiver.

Score: 90

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

Casa Pineda Robusto

Back in the day, before Facebook took over, cigar forums were the way that cigar smokers would socialize an I did that on Club Stogie (RIP) and the follow up of CS Cigar Asylum. That’s where I met Andrew, who had his own brands made in Nicaragua and Aldrin, a student from Florida, amongst others. Aldrin and I helped out Andrew a bit and as a thank you he released a limited batch of cigars bearing our names, Don Fernando for me and Casa Pineda for Aldrin. And the small batch is back, exclusively for Untold Leaf.


As I remember, this was my least favorite of all cigars coming from GDW and mainly because of the wrapper, a Connecticut Shade. And that’s my least favorite of all wrappers in the world. The binder is an Indonesian leaf and the filler is from Nicaragua. According to the website this cigar is the perfect cigar in-between a Connecticut and a Habano and that makes me want to revisit this 5×50 robusto


The wrapper is light, almost pale and the bumpy binder shows itself underneath the thin wrapper, making the cigar look a bit like a teenage girl. The ring, pitch black and glossy with golden letters, looks nice. As for the construction, no complaints, the cigar feels and looks well made, evenly packed, nice triple cap and beautiful in shape. The aroma is dry, like dry hay and straw on a dusty old hayshed.


I used a cheap cutter to take the cap of the cigar. I only received this cigar yesterday so it’s right of the truck. The cold draw is great, spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste a fresh wood with coffee, strong and bold. After half an inch I taste cinnamon with a mild pepper plus a Connecticut mustiness. After a third it’s more a classic Connecticut in flavor but spicier. Halfway I taste hay with a mild harsh mustiness, typical for Connecticut Shade, and an agave syrup sweetness.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is white, full and thick. The burn is straight as an arrow. The light gray ash is relatively firm. There is a decent evolution, the cigar is medium full bodied and flavored, quite strong for a Connecticut Shade. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Still not digging Connecticut Shade wrappers.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Casa Pineda, Guillen Cigars/GDW, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro & Conchita

I have smoked and reviewed several Vegas de Santiago cigars and I like that I see more and more cigars coming from Costa Rica. I thing that there are some good things happening south from Honduras and Nicaragua and the more choice we have, the better, as long as the quality is good. And I never had a complaint about Vegas de Santiago.

The Don Luis line is named after the Cuban cigar master Don Luis Santana Lamas, who cured the tobacco for Vegas de Santiago and rolled some of their production. The filler is undisclosed Caribbean tobacco while the binder and wrapper both are from Ecuador, the binder is a Habano 2000 and the wrapper a Connecticut.

Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Toro


The wrapper is smooth and oily but has a thin vein popping out which should have been flattened or put on the back side of the cigar. The ring is super simple, just white with gold and a logo, well printed though. The cigar feels like its evenly packed and well constructed. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of barnyard and old wood.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great and I taste pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee with a little salt. The flavor changes to a slightly salt wood, smooth and nice, with a little vanilla. Halfway the cigar is all about cedar with a little salt and a mild acidity. I also taste a little nuts, pepper and sweetness. The nut flavor is getting stronger with a nice mix of pepper, vanilla, sugar and cumin.


The draw is fantastic, nothing to complain about. The ash is light gray and very firm. The smoke is medium to full in thickness and volume. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is well balanced and smooth. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again?  Yes

Score: 90
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Vegas de Santiago Don Luis Conchita


This 5×35 sized cigar looks like something I should enjoy, I love thin ring gauges. The wrapper is Connecticut but with a reddish, almost rosado, glow and quite oily. The ring is simple and the cigar feels well made. The aroma is faint barnyard.


The cigar is so thin that punching isn’t an option, so I grabbed my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is on the good side of tight. I taste a little tobacco. After lighting I taste a very pleasant, sweet and balanced coffee. Halfway I taste a mild milk chocolate with the coffee and sweetness. In the aftertaste I get some black pepper. At the end I taste some nutmeg and cumin too.


The draw is just a little tight but not tight enough to create problems. The smoke is a little thin because of the draw. The light colored ash is firm and the burn is straight. This is a medium bodied, medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? I think I will.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , ,

CAO Amazon Anaconda

The final release of the CAO Amazon trilogy is the CAO Amazon Anaconda, made in Honduras with a rare Brazilian wrapper leaf, a Habano from the Bahia region, a Nicaraguan binder and filler from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and the two rare Brazilian tobacco’s used in the Amazon Basin and Amazon Fuma em Corda, namely the Braganca and Guma em Corda tobacco. And because of the rarity of the tobacco, this will be a limited run again.


As I wrote in the review of the CAO Amazon Fuma em Corda, this cigar was handed to me during the Intertabac trade show and I was happy to receive both the Fuma em Corda and the Amazon Anaconda because I really liked the Amazon Basin. I’m looking forward to smoking this 6×52 toro, and I hope I like it as much as I liked the Amazon Basin.


The wrapper has a nice, evenly, dark wrapper with a reddish glow and it’s got the rustic look you’d expect from Brazilian tobacco. To me, Brazilian tobacco always is a little rough on the eyes, or rustic might be a better description. The ring, which is a string of tobacco wrapped around the cigar like an anaconda wraps itself around a tree, finishes the look of the cigar. The construction feels and looks good although there is a little dent in the cigar where the wrapper string starts, I think the roller pressed too hard on that spot. The aroma is fresh, peppery and acidic, medium in strength.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw, which tastes like leather, pepper and raisin, is great. I taste leather after lighting, thick, fat, juicy leather. After a few puffs I also taste sweetness. After an inch I taste that juicy leather but now with sweet milky chocolate. After a third it’s leather and pepper. Halfway I still taste those flavors but now with a lot of floral sweetness. The final third starts with floral and vanilla sweetness, a little bit of leather, pepper and licorice. An interesting combination, quite unique. Near the end the leather gains more strength abs becomes a little dry, the pepper picks up too.


The draw is fine, the smoke it white, thick and plenty in volume. The light colored ash has nice rings. The burn is good, not perfect but good. The cigar is medium in body and strength. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is the Amazon I like least.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, C.A.O. Fabrica de Tabacos Honduras, CAO, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Viking Norseman Toro

I have reviewed two of the three Viking blends, the Viking and the Nordic Warrior and both ended up in my top 25 of 2017 so my expectations for the third blend are high, yet on the other hand, it is a Connecticut shade wrapper so that might be the downside of smoking this cigar. The cigar is made with Ecuadorian Connecticut, Nicaraguan Habano and Dominican Piloto as filler, a Connecticut Broadleaf from the USA as binder and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade as wrapper.

 


Ernesto Perez Carrillo and his La Allianzia factory are responsible for the production of this Norwegian owned brand, that honors the sea dwelling Vikings with this Norseman blend. The seas were a dangerous place with the small Viking ships so these Norseman had to be extremely brave.

 


I love the ring on any of the viking cigars, metal rings, a tin alloy and this one is black & golden with a norseman face. The cigar itself looks great too, a medium brown wrapper with a shaggy  foot that shows off the broadleaf binder. The contrast between the Connecticut Shade and the Broadleaf is huge and it makes the cigar look even tastier. The shape is flawless, the head perfectly round. This cigar is well made. The aroma is strong and reminds me of wood and vegetable stock.

 


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is a little open. I taste pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee with some sweetness and a nice citrus acidity to balance it all out. After half and inch I taste spicy and peppery dry cedar. Then I taste a growing white pepper flavor. There is a very mild Connecticut Shade mustiness but much minder than other Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars. Halfway I taste sweet and slightly musty cedar with white pepper in the aftertaste.

 


The draw is a bit loose, the ash quite dark and frayed. The smoke is thick, white and full. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored with a smoke time of an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the other Viking cigars better because of the wrapper.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Montecristo Petit Robusto

Through a mutual friend I met Mike Choi at intertabac last september. Mike Choi is an authority when it comes to Cuban cigars, something which I’m not, my knowledge is in the non Cuban brands and more specifically Nicaraguan cigars. Mike opened his travel humidor and said “pick one, these are from the petit robusto selection” of which I never heard off. Anyway, I went for the Montecristo.


A search through google, and a little help from my friend, La Casa del Habano Almere owner, Yuri Dijkstra, pointed me in the right direction. It’s a sampler with five different Cuban brands all in the petit robusto size and I must say, the pictures look great. The brands included in the sampler are Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagas and H. Upmann. Two cigars of each brand are included in the sampler. Maybe I should try to find one for a series of reviews.


The 4×50 cigars looks cute even though the wrapper is a bit rustic. The color reminds me of milk chocolate and the ring is the simple, regular brown and white montecristo ring. Well printed though, by Vrijdag printing in The Netherlands. The construction feels good and the cigar looks good too. Yet, when I set the cigar on its foot there is a resemblance to the leaning tower of Pisa. The cigar has that typical Cuban manure smell, medium strong.


After lighting I taste vanilla, coffee and hazelnut. After half an inch I get some more sweetness, a hint of vanilla and pepper, hazelnut and leather. Halfway it’s leather with a vanilla sugar flavor followed by a strong pepper in the aftertaste. Near the end I taste nuts again with a very peppery finish.


I cut the cigar and the draw is great. I taste a mild white pepper. The smoke is full, yet it has a bit of a brownish gray smoke. The ash is dense and has nice layers. The cigar is medium full bodied, medium flavored. The burn is pretty good and straight. The smoke time is fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the cigar so I hope I can find that sampler for a fair price.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, Montecristo (Habanos) | Tags: , , , , ,

El Baton Double Torpedo

So, as you probably know, I used to be a cigar sales rep but i no longer do that kind of work. I still have my contacts though and one of them, a sales rep for Davidoff, reached out to me recently. Davidoff also sells J.C. Newman cigars here and he visited them in Tampa, brought some cigars and asked me if I was willing to write a review. It won’t surprise you much that I said yes, so he came by and dropped of four cigars, of which this is the first one.


El Baton is an old brand, it was founded in 1914, made out of Cuban tobacco with a price tag of a nickel. Then the brand disappeared but it returned to the market in 2010 as a Nicaraguan puro made by J.C. Newman in their Puros de Esteli Nicaragua SA aka Pensa, factory in Esteli.


When I take the 6 1/4×56 cigar out of the cellophane, something that J.C. Newman introduced and is now an industry standard, I notice how dark the Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper is, it’s almost maduro and darker than the Double Toro which I will review later this year. The wrapper looks oily too and a few thin veins run over the upper part like scars on the face of a classic movie thug. The simple ring is classy, different shades of blue with silver colored lettering, just saying El Baton, on a high quality print. The construction feels good. Add a strong and dark stable aroma and I’m actually quite looking forward to light the cigar.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is easy and spicy. After lighting it’s clear coffee, earthy and strong, with a little spice, yet balanced. Soon after I taste coffee with cocoa and pepper. After an inch I taste some nuts too. After a third I taste salty peanuts with licorice and spices. Near the end I taste salt, pepper and a hint of flowers.


The draw is a little loose and at the start I had an uneven burn, after correcting the burn is good. The smoke is very thick, full and white. The firm ash is gray. This cigar is medium full bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half

Would I buy this cigar again? I think I’d like it better in a smaller ring.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, El Baton, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA | Tags: , , , ,

Flores y Rodiguez 10th Anniversary Figurado

Ten years after Abe Flores and the Rodriguez brothers went into business together and started PDR it was time to release an anniversary cigar and so they created this ‘Reserva Limitada’ line in four vitolas: Robusto, Figurado, Wide Churchill and Gran Toro. For this review I am smoking the 6 1/2×52 figurado that I have had in my humidor for approximately three years.


The cigars are made from tobacco from three different countries. The filler is an aged Nicaraguan piloto cubano, with at least 7 years of age on it. The binder comes from the Dominican Republic and is a Dominican Olor while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano.


This shape makes the cigar look special, somehow figurados make a cigar seem cooler, mor fancy. Add a mind shiny, smooth wrapper and it just rises your expectations. As for the ring, I have said that to Abe on many occasions, the PDR and Flores y Rodriguez cigars are good enough to stand on their own and not having to copy Cuban rings yet Abe Flores did it again, he copied the old green and white Ramon Allones ring, the one that was in place before the make-over by Habano and the secondary ring with the gold and black has a reminiscence with the Cuban limitada ring too, just slightly different. The rings are pretty and well printed, yet not unique. The construction feels and looks great. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay with some spice to it


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste raw tobacco and pepper. After lighting I taste coffee and earthy flavors. After an inch the cigar is wood with herbs and a little pepper. Halfway I taste wood with a faint vanilla and some acidity to balance it out. The aftertaste is peppery and I taste a very faint milk chocolate too. The final third starts peppery with some wood as a base for the pepper. An icing sugar sweetness joins the spicy wood and the red pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and full, with a perfect white color. The light gray ash has nice dark rings and is firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a pleasant cigar that I will smoke every now and then.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Flores y Rodriguez, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

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