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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: , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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: , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fonseca 30th Anniversary Toro

You can consider this a vintage cigar since it was a limited edition release to celebrate Matasa’s 30th year in business. Now if Matasa doesn’t ring a bell, maybe Quesada does. And Matasa is the name of their factory on the Dominican Republic, Fonseca is on of the brands they make. And they celebrated their 30st birthday back in 2003, thats 15 years ago.

 


The cigar sports a Dominican wrapper. Now that doesn’t turn heads anymore but when it was released it was a novelty. Fuente just released the Opus X, the first cigar with a Dominican wrapper, and together with this Fonseca Matasa 30th anniversary La Aurora and La Flor Dominicana released cigars with Dominican wrappers and that was it. The cigar was released in two vitolas, a 6 1/2×52 Toro and a 5 3/4×54 Perfecto and in total 30.000 cigars were made.

 


The wrapper is dark and oily, leathery but beautiful. The construction feels good although the cap could have been placed a bit nicer. The ring is pretty, glossy black, popping gold, bright red and clear fonts. I like it. And then the aroma, strong and complex, like a Indonesian rendan spice mix.

 


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste some sweet raising followed by some pepper on my lips. A nice strong coffee is the first thing I taste after lighting. After half an inch I taste herbs, spices and a mild dark chocolate. After an inch it’s herbs and a mild peppery flavor. Every few puffs I taste some chocolate too. The flavors then change to meaty with a mild pepper. At the beginning of the final third the pepper gains a little strength. Slowly the pepper is getting stronger towards the end.

 


The draw is good. The white smoke is medium thick and full. The gray ash is dense and firm. The cigar is medium in body and flavor. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Don’t think that would be possible

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Fonseca, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Selection Habano Canonazo

In 2012 PDR Cigars introduced another Dominican puro during the IPCPR trade show and it was this Flores y Rodriguez Habano Cabinet Selection. The name Flores y Rodriguez comes from Abe Flores and his partners, the Rodriguez brothers and together they are responsible for the brand.


All the tobacco used in this cigar comes from the one Cuban seed from the Vuelta Abajo region, the best tobacco region of Cuba, that was brought to the Dominican Republic to be cultivated. And this cigar is the result, Cigar Journal rated it a 95 point cigar. I smoked the 6 3/4×58 Canonazo, the other vitolas in the series are a 5×52 Magicos, a 6×52 Genios and a 6 1/2×52 Unicos (Belicoso)


The milky brown chocolate wrapper has a few veins and feels like velvet. The cigar feels well constructed and the triple cap is placed nicely. The ring is simple, a classic shape with a oval on the front the outlines are gold, the sides are blue and white vertical stripes and the face of the ring is burgundy with white letters and a golden crest on a blue background. The medium strong aroma reminds me of horses.


I used a guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is good, spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy and herbal cedar and toast with some pepper in the aftertaste. After half and inch I taste toast with cinnamon and sweetness, caramel like. After an inch I taste French toast with a little sugar. After an inch I taste a mild wood and cinnamon flavor. Halfway it’s toasty with a mild peanut butter flavor, surprising but nice. After that I taste toast with sugar and a little nutmeg. Near the end the cigar is sweet but with a nice peppery aftertaste.


The draw is good, as to be expected from a big ring cigar. The smoke is full, thick and white. The salt and pepper colored ash has nice rings. The ash is firm too. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, well balanced and pleasant. Evolution is very good for a big ring cigar yet the flavors don’t pop. The burn is great, straight and slow. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? The blend yes, this vitola maybe, the smaller ones for sure.

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

Falto Robusto

Back in 2010 I reviewed three Falto cigars and earlier this month I reviewed the Falto Lonsdale and the Falto Gran Reserva Especial Perfecto, now its time for the Falto Robusto. All the cigars are from the same, very generous, sampler that Luis Falto send me back in 2010 so we can say that these cigars are well aged by now.


The 5×50 Falto Robusto is made at La Aurora Cigars from Dominican filler and binder with a Sumatra wrapper grown in Ecuador. When the Falto was introduced it was as a small batch cigar, only 160 boxes of this blend would be produced on a yearly basis, I don’t know if the limitation is still in place and where these cigars are sold. I guess with a limited production like that they will all be sold at the cigar lounge Luis Falto owns in Puerto Rico


The wrapper is quite dark, like black coffee with a thin long vein running over it. The construction feels great and the cigar is nicely shaped with a beautiful head. The blue, yellow and golden ring is gorgeous, I just like the color combination, the sharpness, the clean design. The aroma is mild and reminds me of hay.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. The flavor is of raw tobacco. After lighting I taste a nice, full, smooth coffee. After half an inch a perfectly balanced sugar sweet and lemon sour flavor takes over with coffee on the background.  After a third I taste I taste herbs with some acidity. Halfway done wood shows up too. The flavors then change to a nice mild spice mix with some sweetness and a little pepper. Near the end the cigar gets more peppery and sweeter.


The draw is fantastic, the burn crisp and straight, the smoke medium thick and gray. The ash is white to light gray, dense and firm. This is a medium bodied and medium flavored cigar with a good evolution and a great balance. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a very pleasant first cigar of the day kind of stick.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Falto, Tabacalera La Aurora | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve Robusto

When you’ve been a cigar geek for some time you may recognize when certain manufacturers stepped their game up and it is a defining moment in the history of their company, raising them to another level. For Arturo Fuente that was the moment they released the Opus X, for Oliva it was the release of the Oliva Series V and later even an extra step up to the Series V Melanio and more recently you could really see and taste the development from the Garcia family when they released the My Father and My Father Le Bijou series. All of these lines were better, more refined and more expensive than what they previously did and it elevated their status in the industry and amongst cigar smokers. I have a feeling that this Flores y Rodriguez is that ‘stepping up the game’ cigar for Abe Flores from PDR Cigars.


For years PDR made good cigars, medium priced, good quality cigars but nothing extraordinary, nothing that could compete in the big leagues but early 2016 Abe released the Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve with completely other tobacco, well aged, in bolder packaging for a bolder price. After the initial release he even took the next step and released the cigars into beautiful jars and released a follow up line in the Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve Azul. I got both this regular Connecticut Vally Reserve robusto and the Azul robusto from Abe at Intertabac 2016.


The 7 year old Connecticut broadleaf wrapper looks amazing, it is oily, shiny and dark with some marbling but no real veins. The construction feels great and the triple cap is placed straight but it quite big though. Not that I mind, I punch a cigar with this ring gauge of 52 anyway so I won’t have unravel issues anyway. The cigar has a red cloth footband, then a brown ring with two golden outlines on the top and botton of which the inner one has white dots. In the ring you read Connecticut Valley Reserve in golden letters. The top ring is round and red with golden outlines, a golden crest in the centre, then a golden circle around it, then a red circle with the name Flores y Rodriguez, Tamboril in white letters. The cider have white and red vertical stripes and the text handmade. I smell a mild aroma of barnyard and straw.


Like I said I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect and I taste some raisin, pepper and some spicy leather. I taste a pleasant coffee flavor after lighting the cigar with a soft flame. Slowly the flavors change to earthy flavors with some citrus and a little metallic flavor. Although the flavors are nice they evolve so slow it goes secretly and almost unnoticed. After a third I taste earthy flavors with some licorice, cocoa and nuts. Halfway I taste some chocolate too. After two thirds the cigar gets a sudden change of flavors, nuts, a little bit of pepper and a mix of herbal flavors. The flavors are dark, this is an autumn or winter kind of cigars. The pepper gets a little stronger and so does the earthiness.


The smoke is medium plus thick and full in volume. The draw is fantastic. The ash is salt and pepper colored and very firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The balance is great and the evolution very secretly until the final third. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, this is a nice cigar that fit the colder months of the year.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Flores y Rodriguez, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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