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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: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , , , , ,

Balmoral Royal Selection Maduro Corona

Balmoral, probably the most famous Dutch cigar brand nowadays, but in The Netherlands not just famous for their longfillers. Their short fillers are everywhere, from supermarkets to gas stations, and their longfillers never impressed me until a few years ago. I was the host of the Dutch Big Smoke and Balmoral contacted me to see if they could release their new line, the Anejo at the Big Smoke and my first reaction was “why do you think we want to introduce a gas station cigar?”. Well, I met up with the marketing manager anyway, smoked the cigar and had to apologize for my blunt reaction, what a great cigar and I smoked a lot of them since and reviewed them before on my blog too.


But I have to admit, I didn’t smoke their other offerings ever again, not even their Dominican Selection shortfiller that I smoked a lot and loved a lot as a novice cigar smoker. I found a Balmoral Royal Selection Corona in my humidor and this 5 7/8×42 cigar is made in the Dominican Republic with Brazilian and Dominican filler, a Dominican Olor binder and Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. Time to let the prejudice go and review this cigar.


The wrapper is beautiful, dark and typical Brazilian with thick veins, dry to the touch but also oily. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. The ring is old fashioned and in need of an update. Two colors green with white and golden lines, a shield with the beautiful B in the centre and Balmoral on top, since 1895 on the bottom. The print quality is great, the ring is clear but the design is too old fashioned for me. The aroma is a mixture of barnyard, manure and dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar with my guillotine cutter. The cold draw is great and I taste raisin and a little pepper. After lighting the cigar, with a torch this time, and I taste coffee, earthy flavors, a little lemon and some sweetness. The flavors changes to earthy flavor with wood and some chocolate. Halfway I taste peanuts, some salt, a little chocolate and pepper. The final third starts with a hazelnut chocolate butter flavor, Nutella like with some vanilla. The flavor changes to nutty with pepper and a hint of cocoa.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The light gray ash is dense and firm. The burn is great, almost completely straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The evolution is good. The smoke time is almost an hour and a half

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not as good as the Anejo series but better than I remembered.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , ,

Headley Grange Drumstick

When STG bought the independent brand CAO and incorporated it into the General Cigars portfolio one of the things that changed was the base of operations. CAO was always based in Nashville, Tennessee but after the take-over the brand had to move to the General Cigars offices in Virginia. A few of CAO executives, including Jon Huber and Gary Hyams, decided against the move and promised to take care of the Tennessee employees, thus they started a new company, Crowned Heads.


Their first release was named after a Kings of Leon song that they would make a reference to their second release as well, calling it Headley Grange, a famous music studio where a lot of great artists recorded. And they took one of those songs, when the levee breaks by Led Zeppelin as inspiration, especially the pounding drum in the intro. So in 2012 they released this cigar, made at the La Alianza factory of E.P. Carrillo with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder and the line up included this limited edition lancero aka drumstick.


The wrapper is quite rustic, it has a nice, deep brown without being very dark. It’s almost like a piece of cinnamon. The simple ring is stylish, black with golden outlines and clear white letter saying the brand name and smaller, golden, letters Republica Dominicana. The printing quality is good too. The construction feels great, the head of the cigar is amazing, a slightly raised tip yet not enough to speak of a torpedo shape head. The aroma is mild and reminds me of milk chocolate.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is a little tight. The cold draw taste is quite spicy and peppery. The flavor I get after lighting is a strong and peppery coffee. After a few puffs I taste a sweet cinnamon instead of the peppery coffee. Then the flavors change to herbal flavors with a citrus acidity. And before the first third is over the flavors change again to dry cedar with lime. After a third I taste a milky chocolate with lemon. After this the cigar mellows out, cedar with herbs, spices and sweetness with subtle changes in strength. Ever few puffs I taste some pepper too. In the final third I also taste some nuts.


The draw is good. The ash is white. The smoke is ok, not thick, not thin, volume just enough. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it.

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

A.J. Fernandez Last Call

If you were invited to wacht a NFL game at the home of A.J. Fernandez you got offered a small robusto, 4 1/2×48, with a closed foot called the Last Call, which refers to the sport games it was made for. Usually the guests would get it in the final quarter of the game. The cigars are made with Nicaraguan filler and binder and the tobacco is grown by Fernandez himself while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Rosado Habano and the foot is closed.


I would love to write a story on how I was watching a game at Abdel’s house and got this cigar but no. I have been to Esteli twice, I have been to the factory and I have met Abdel on several occasions but we are not so close that he invites me over to watch a game of a sport that I don’t care about, don’t know the rules about and wouldn’t be able to name 5 teams if my life depended on it. I’m European, I watch football where the ball is actually round and played with the feet instead of the hands, and without 1980’s shoulder pats. And even then, I only watch games of my favorite team Ajax Amsterdam and not any other games.


The silky wrapper has a but of a dull appearance but I also see some minerals. During transport the wrapper got a little bit banged up but thats my fault so that won’t be factored in with the score. The wrapper is very smooth. The construction feels good with a beautiful triple cap. the wing is simple, round beige with red outlines and red letters Last Call. The font reminds me of baseball for some reason. The ring also says ‘premium aged tobacco by a.j. fernandez’. The cigar has a mild manure aroma.


I cut the cigar with a guillotine cutter and I expected a little tight draw because of the closed foot but it was surprisingly easy. I taste some pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame, my trusted vintage Ronson. I taste honey, coffee, leather and pepper direct after lighting the cigar. After a centimeter I taste a caramel sweetness with autumn leafs and a nice spice mix. After a third I taste a slowly growing pepper too. Halfway I taste a nice mix of spices with just the right amount of pepper. After two thirds I taste nuts with a little cumin.


The draw is great, but the smoke is thin and low in volume. The light colored as is dense and firm. The burn is slow and pretty straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, well balanced and with a nice evolution. The smoke time is five minutes short of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes this is a nice medium bodied cigar and with a better smoke it would have scored a point higher.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Last Call, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , ,

Cuenca 5th Anniversary Robusto

A few years ago Joya de Nicaragua hired Jose Blanco and with owner Dr Martinez Cuenca the company released the Cuenca y Blanco but had to change the name because there was already a Cuenca cigar and trademark, namely the one from Cuenca Cigars, a shop in Hollywood, Florida and the Cuenca line of cigars is their house blend but it’s also sold at other shops.


I don’t know much about this cigar except that it’s made in Nicaragua with Dominican filler, a criollo binder (country unknown to me) and a ligero wrapper from Jalapa, Nicaragua and blended with help of A.J. Fernandez. Since AJ helped with the blend, I’m guessing the cigars are made at his factory too. The cigar is box pressed, measured 5×54 and has an MSRP of 8 dollars. The price tag on the cigar says Smoke Inn VI, a shop in Margate, Florida.


The wrapper is silky on the touch but looks like a piece of fine, dark, leather with some veins. The ring is nice, black with gold and red with a big  in the middle and a green banner Cuenca, the print quality is fine so the details can be seen clearly. The construction feels good, its a well made cigar. The aroma is very strong, dark chocolate and hay, that’s what I smell.


I cut the flat head, the spicy cold draw has hints of pepper, lemon and raisin. The draw is good. After lighting I taste a mild acidic and bitter coffee and dark chocolate flavor. The first inch stays this way. After a third I taste coffee with sweetness, a little lime and pepper. The sweetness disappears, I taste more dark chocolate, pepper, coffee and even some nuts.


The draw is great. The ash is light gray. The burn is pretty good. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness. The cigar is medium full bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is close to an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Next time I see them in a shop I’ll get a fiver.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Cuenca, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Micallef Reserva Churchill

This is the last of the four cigars from the Micallef family at the intertabac trade show, and the largest one, a 7×52 Churchill made with tobacco that have been aged for a minimum of eight years. The wrapper is San Andres Habano from Mexico, the binder is from Nicaragua while the filler comes from Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. After rolling the cigars have been aged for an additional year.


If you read my previous reviews, you have read something about the history of the Gomez Sanchez family but not that even the third generation was born on Cuba, way aft the revolution, and that they started working in the cigar industry on Cuba on their own, so it’s not like they rolled into the world of tobacco because their grandfather owned a factory. Only in 1994 and 1998 Joel and Edel managed to leave the island of Cuba and join their family in the factory.


As this is a Micallef cigar, the ring is that eastern European ring again, lots of gold and silver with bold red letters and a golden foot ring with red letters. Well printed, good quality, but not my taste. The dark wrapper is shiny and oily, smooth too. The cigar feels well constructen with a nice flattened head. Even though the cigar is made of age tobaccos and has been resting for a year after rolling, the aroma is still a little acidic, ammonia, but not too strong though.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great and tastes herbal. After lighting I taste a gingerbread cookie flavor, sweet and with some spices like gingerbread is supposed to be. After half an inch I taste pepper with wood. After an inch I taste that gingerbread again with a little more pepper. Slowly some powdered sugar sweetness shows up too. The flavors remain the same until the final third when the pepper becomes real strong.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The color is white. The ash on the other hand is dark. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar is medium in flavor and strength. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the right price.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Micallef, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Aruhiba Light Corona

Years ago someone asked me about the Dutch antilles islands and why there isn’t a tobacco culture even though the islands are in the Caribbean. I couldn’t answer and had to guess that the soil or the climate weren’t suitable for tobacco. But then I found out about a small tobacco plantation and factory on Aruba called Aruhiba, the project of one man, Benjamin Petrocchi.


Petrocchi was a cigar salesman for years and in 2004 he decided to start his own cigar company too, so he planted some tobacco on his home island of Aruba and started rolling cigars at his shop in 2008, only in 2010 he started rolling for production but the production is low and the cigars are only sold at his own shop where you can see him roll cigars almost daily. One of my friends went to Aruba and brought me two different Aruhiba cigars, the natural robusto and the light corona where the light has a clearly darker wrapper than the natural, so the name is a bit misleading. I have had them in my humidor for at least 5 years but it’s time to try them now, staring with the Light Corona.


Once I take the cigar out of the cellophane I immediately smell a medium strong tarred wood aroma, the construction feels hard, but evenly hard and the cap is put on nicely. The ring is simple, yellow with brown letters and look photocopied so that the small text ‘cultivated and hand rolled in Aruba’ is hardly readable. Th wrapper is nice and dark, has some shine to it but has a lot of veins and that doesn’t make the cigar look too appealing, but never judge a book by its cover, I had ugly cigars that were amazing and beautiful cigars that I never want to smoke again.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is fine with a flavor that made me think I lost my mind: peppery fried chicken but after cleaning my palate with cold water and tasting again I come to the same conclusion. After lighting I taste earthy tones with dark wood. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness and a hefty dose of pepper. After half an inch i taste cedar with pepper with a little bit of a Connecticut Shade mustiness but only a hint. That mustiness fades away almost immediately and I taste cedar with some pepper and lime. After a third the cigar becomes meaty with pepper. Halfway the cigar becomes a little nutty with cedar and pepper. I also get a little hint of cocoa. Near the end I also get a mild cinnamon flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick and plentiful. The ash is quite dark and beautifully layered, the construction is top notch on this cigar. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? If I’m ever in Aruba I will buy some as a souvenir but I won’t stock up with boxes. But the cigar did exceed my expectations.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Aruhiba, Dutch cigars | Tags: , ,

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