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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: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , ,

Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius

I used to work for the Dutch distributer of Casa Magna, next to the Casa Magna Colorado we also carried the Honduran made Casa Magna Oscuro and the Casa Magna Domus Magnus Primus and Optimus and they sold, except for the oscuro. The Domus Magnus I smoked a lot too, great cigar for a great price. We even introduced it at the first Dutch Big Smoke in 2010. Fast forward to 2014, Quesada released a second Domus Magnus year with a few new sizes including this Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius but they weren’t on the international price list so we couldn’t order them.


A year later I went to Nicaragua with Marcel Langedijk and Jesaja Hutubessy, a journalist and a photographer for the book Cigaragua they wanted to publish and I was the one that arranged the whole trip. If you write a book about Nicaraguan tobacco and cigars you cannot ignore the Plasencia family so even though we didn’t do any business with them I made an appointment. During our meeting there Nestor Andres Plasencia handed me a Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberius and explained me that the strange shape actually came from a Bic lighter, they made a mold out of the shape of the lighter to make this 6×54 figurado and they used nothing but Nicaraguan tobacco. I lit the cigar and fell in love.


Right after I returned from the trip we needed to place an order at Quesada, I requested the latest international price sheet and again, no Domus Magnus II mentioned so I started to push a little and within a few days Raquel Quesada got me prices and we placed a big order for The Netherlands. Now the cigar looks good, it has a medium brown wrapper, like dark oak, with a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the wrapper looks nice with some marbling and hardly any veins. The cigar has two rings, a foot ring in black with small red vertical lines, golden outline and golden lettering D. Magnus II Limitada. The normal ring has that same red & black vertical striping and the golden outline on the sides and back and a big yellow logo on the from with a red banner. The brand name Casa Magna is printed in golden and on a small banner at the bottom it says D. Magnus II limitada. I smell a mild woody aroma.


Due to the unusual shape I had no choice but to cut and I used my Xikar XI2 cutter for that. The cold draw is good and I taste some woody and pepper flavors. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste a pleasant coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste cedar and a little metallic flavor. This is not how I remember the cigar when I first smoked it. After a centimeter I taste mild peanuts with still some metallic flavor. After a third i also taste a little bit of cocoa.

Right before I reach halfway the metallic flavor is gone, I now taste herbs, toast and wood. After two thirds I taste some faint cocoa again. After that the cigar gets spicier again and the metal flavor returns too, but faint. The finish is great.


The draw is flawless and the ash is light colored, dense and firm. The shape of the cigar doesn’t feel weird or unusual as you might suspect. The smoke is medium thick and medium in amount. The burn is quite straight. The cigar is full bodied and medium full to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, even if it was just to see if this is a dud or that the one I smoked in Nicaragua stood out from the rest.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Casa Magna, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Winston Churchill by Davidoff The Artist

Winston Churchill is one of the most iconic and well known cigar smokers in history and for years Davidoff had a line of cigars in his name. But in 2014 they reblended and revamped the line with a new blend, consisting from Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, a Mexican binder and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and new rings and logos.


Someone gave me this 4 1/2×41 Petit Corona with the name The Artist. It is named The Artist because Winston Churchill was a passionate amateur painter who loved to paint rich landscapes and some of his paintings are in world renowned museums all over the world, although I guess that if he wasn’t such an iconic statesman and wouldn’t have won the second world war his paintings would not have been on display. But I’m not an expert on art, so I might be completely wrong here.


The chestnut brown wrapper is flawless, smooth and mild oily. The ring is fantastic, glossy white with a popping gold outline, a golden silhouette of Winston Churchill and the Davidoff name. The construction feels good, the cap is nice, the shape of the cigar is even and the aroma is nice, like walking into a stable with just born lambs and mother sheep.


After I cut the cigar I taste just dry tobacco with a great cold draw. After lighting I taste a sweet coffee with a splash of lime. After a third I taste nuts with a little lime. The final third is where the cigar turns to bitterness.


The draw is a bit loose but the smoke is top notch. The ash is light with darker smears. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the cold winter months

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Alec Bradley Tempus Naturel Terra Nova

Now Alec Bradley was one of those brands that for me was always ‘middle of the road’, never had any issues, they were all oke, none were unlikeable but also non wowed me. That was until George Sosa gave me a Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova on one of our trips through The Netherlands, where I worked for the distributer of Alec Bradley and some other brands. The Tempus Nicaragua and the Mundial stood out for me, but it made me sit down and really focus on some Alec Bradley cigars and that made me realize the Black Market is better than I had in mind. Now I’m going to focus on the Alec Bradley Tempus Natural Terra Nova.


Now the Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua is a Honduran cigar because it’s made at Raices Cubanas, just like the Alec Bradley Tempus Natural. The Terra Nova is a 5×50 robusto and the blend consists from Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Honduran binder and also a Honduran wrapper. All the other vitolas have names coming from latin, like Centuria, Magnus & Magistri amongst others. Now my latin is non excisting so I couldn’t tell you more about it if my life depended on it.


Back to the cigar itself, once I release it from its cellophane jacket I see a quite dark wrapper with some veins and a shine from the natural oils in the leaf. The construction feels good and the triple cap is very beautifully placed. The cigar has a strong aroma of manure but without ammonia and charcoal. The ring is gorgeous. I will start with the small ring at the foot, its brown with golden outlines, small golden dots and white letters saying Natural. Then the real ring, its big, flashy with lots of gold, silver, a brown banner with white letters saying Alec Bradley and right in the centre the red oval with the AB letters in white. The quality of the print is amazing.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is on the tight side of good and I taste metallic raisins with a hint of pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste coffee with a caramel like sweetness. Half an inch in I taste chocolate, sweet tasty chocolate. After a third the cigar gets some spices, a woody flavor with a pepper aftertaste. The caramel is still around too. Halfway I taste lemon with some nuts, the pepper is getting stronger and slowly the chocolate returns.


The draw is good, the smoke is medium thick and in volume but it’s getting better along the way. Unfortunately the burn is crooked. The ash is dark gray, layered and firm. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes, shorter than usual for a robusto but I think that has to do with the corrections I had to make on the burn.

Would I buy this cigar again? I will stick with the Nicaragua

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas

Punch LE 2013

I have a lot of people on facebook and one of them, Victor King, I had never met before but when he came to Amsterdam I met up with him and Nasier, from tabaccoshop Van Lookeren to hit a few lounges in the city. When Victor walked in he handed me a Punch Limited Edition from 2013 and he said it was a great cigar. Me, not a big fan of Cubans, decided to accept it and save it for a review. Here’s my review.


The 2013 Edicion Limitada was called Serie D’Oro #2 and it’s a 5 1/2 x 52 Pyramid. It was the first limited edition for the Punch brand, in 2017 a new limited edition was supposed to be released but by the time I was writing the intro to this review (mid january 2018) those cigars weren’t released yet according to the Cuban Cigar Website, so for now I can say the Serie D’Oro #2 is the only Limited Edition of the brand that has been released so far.


The wrapper is quite dark, leathery and veiny. The cigar feels well constructed, I don’t feel soft spots or plugs. And the rings are nice, the regular red & golden Punch ring and the regular golden & black ‘Edicion limitada” secondary ring. The mild aroma is classic Cuban, barnyard and cow dung.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, quite spicy for a Cuban cigar. After lighting I taste a citrus coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste soil, coffee, a little spice and some citrus. Halfway I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper, a little nutmeg too. I also taste a little nutty flavor. The final third is peppery, woody with a floral sweetness.


The draw is flawless. The ash is almost white with a few darker smears. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, the color is white. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Depending on the price I might want a fiver.

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

Don Pepin Garcia Original Toro

The final review of the My Father Selection Toro sampler is the Don Pepin Garcia Original aka the Don Pepin Garcia Blue series, on of the first or maybe even the first release under the Don Pepin name. Back then the Nicaraguan puro was made at the El Rey de Los Habanos factory in Miami’s Calle Ocho but nowadays the cigar is produced in Esteli, Nicaragua.


Although the blend, hundred procent Nicaraguan tobacco with a Corojo Oscuro wrapper, hasn’t changed, the rings did get an upgrade once of twice just like the related Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic/Black, which was my first ever Don Pepin cigar and I’ve loved the brand since. And I’m not the only one, since this cigar has been available for over a decade, scored 93 in Cigar Aficionado and reached the top25 in 2008 plus the Garcia family won that Top 25 list in both 2012 with the Flor de Las Antillas and 2015 with the My Father Le Bijou. With that under their belt, plus many more entries for their own brands but also for other My Father made brands like Tatuaje, La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal you can say that My Father Cigars equals quality.


The wrapper is a dark mocha color, its smooth and oily with no dominant veins. The foot of the cigar is protected by a piece of blue cloth and the cigar has two rings. The main ring is exactly like the Cuban Classic and the Series JJ, except where the Cuban Classic is black and the JJ is white, this one is blue. So a blue oval with golden curly letters saying Don Pepin Garcia and references to Nicaragua, Cuba and America on the sides. Then there is a secondary ring, blue with golden letters saying Original. The cigar feels and looks good, nicely finished, no soft spots. And the aroma reminds me of hay and those stock cubes you can use for soups, medium strong.


I used my xikar cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is flawless and I feel the pepper burn on my lips. After lighting I taste spicy and strong coffee. There is also a metallic freshness. The cigar is spicy, peppery and woody. After half an inch I taste cedar with a lot of pepper. After a third I taste some citrus acidity and some nutmeg with the cedar and the strong pepper. Halfway the pepper is less strong and the cigar is better balanced. I also taste a bit of chocolate milk. The chocolate milk disappears and the pepper grows stronger again.


The draw is great. The smoke is thick, full and voluminous. The ash is white. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored with a smoke time of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I smoked my first Don Pepin Blue a decade ago and I will keep smoking them.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Don Pepin Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

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