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Blanco Above & Beyond Unwilling

Blanco Above & Beyond Unwilling. David Blanco, the CEO of Blanco Cigars, has a background in the military. Just as his father. And that background prompted them to create a cigar for the heroes that sacrificed all. For those that paid the ultimate price. Not just in the armed forces, but also in the civil service. As a former deputy sheriff and Chicago Fire Department paramedic, David Blanco knows first hand about those sacrifices. On top of his civil service, he served close to 30 years in the American Army. Both in active duty, National Guard and Reservist. He served 18 months in the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom which brought him to Afghanistan. And at the same time, his father was serving in Iraq. Currently, Blanco is still an active jumpmaster for the United States Army Reserve. He joins veterans at World War II memorial jumps over Europe every chance he gets.


The Blanco Above and Beyond cigars honor those heroes. Part of the proceeds of the cigars goes to charities that help families of fallen service members, or survivors of tragedies while serving. And the cigars represent that. When a service member gets killed, the family members get an American flag, neatly folded into a triangle. All for sizes of the Above & Beyond are torpedos so that the head of the cigars can get a triangle-shaped blue ring with white stars. That resembles the American flag that the family members of fallen servicemen and women get. The cigar itself is a rebranded classic from Blanco Cigars, the American Legion cigar. The wrapper comes from Nicaragua. It’s a Rosado Habano wrapper. The binder is Honduran. The fillers come from both Nicaragua and Honduras.


The cigar has a beautiful reddish-brown wrapper. The point of the torpedo is extremely pointy and sharp for a cigar, The black and silver ring has the American flag. The Blanco name is written in the colors of the fire brigade, police and paramedics. Their logos are on the back of the ring as well. There is a text printed as well, probably the pledge of alliance but since we are not American, we don’t know for sure. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong. Wood, horses and a little ammonia comes to mind. After a third, it’s pepper, toast, spices, sweetness but now with wood as well. The mouthfeel is quite dry.


The cold draw is loose. The pre-draw is a little dry, with nutmeg and slightly wet hay. But those flavors are faint. Once lit, there is a bitter grassy flavor with spices and pepper. Not unpleasant, but quite unrefined. Soon, the cigar gets more balanced and the flavors get more rounded. The nutmeg and spices start to shine through. When some sweetness shows up, the bitterness fades away. After half a centimeter, the cigar has a sweet toasted flavor, with cinnamon and pepper. Halfway the cigar has a salty, licorice flavor with toast, spices, and pepper. The cinnamon-like sweetness returns, with wood, salt, licorice, and toast. The licorice flavor remains strong, with spices, wood, and pepper.


The smoke is thick and plentiful. The draw is good. The burn is a little off but doesn’t have to be corrected. The cigar is medium to medium full-bodied. The flavors are medium-full as well, with enough evolution to keep the cigar interesting all the way. The smoke time is two hours fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, once in a while

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Categories: 90, Blanco Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , ,

ACID Kuba Arte

Drew Estate Acid Kuba Arte. A limited edition Drew Estate Acid to commemorate 20 years of Drew Estate Acid Kuba. And they come packed in pieces of art. Water towers containing 20 cigars and a boveda pack. All the water towers are hand pained by New York based street artists. That is a tribute to the art side that Drew Estate always had, from day one. The company was founded in Brooklyn, and the 5 artists all have roots in that burrough of New York as well. Back in the day, Jonathan Drew was sitting on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and he saw water towers and graffiti. Now he brings it back together.

The cigar is infused. Premium tobaccos have been used though. From a beautiful American grown broadleaf Maduro wrapper to the hearty Nicaraguan fillers. Add am Indonesian binder and you have the blend. Drew Estate uses a unique infusion method, one of the best kept secrets in the industry to turn the cigars into the ACID lines. People love it, or hate it. There is no in-between. They sell like hotcakes, yet a lot of natural cigar smokers look down on the acid lines.


The cigar looks great. A dark, oily wrapper. No visible veins. The cigar is slightly box-pressed. The ring is in graffiti style, and mentions it’s a limited edition. The aroma is strong, once removed from the cellophane you can immediately smell a chemical aroma that is unusual for cigars. It reminded us of toilet cakes, liquid soap and flowers. The cigar looks and feels well constructed. While wetting the cap, before cutting it, the chemical taste is pretty strong.


The cold draw is pretty good. The wrapper leaves a sweet flavor on the lips, the tobacco itself has some pepper. The first puffs are overpowered by the sweetness of the wrapper. The unnatural sweetness. Once the initial shock of the unnatural sweetness is gone, it’s not that bad. Sweetness, with some spices and pepper. A little coffee shows up, and the pepper mellows out. The floral, chemical sweetness is still very dominant. There are hints of dried leaves and leather on the background as well. After a third it’s still sweet, floral sweet, with pepper, leather, and toast on the background. Halfway the sweetness is at a level where it’s actually pleasant, although still a bit too strong. The flavors remain the same, with that dominant sweetness, some pepper, leather and toast.


The draw is fantastic. And the smoke is plentiful, like with the natural premium cigars from the same factory. The light colored ash isn’t very firm. The cigar is medium bodied, yet full flavored although the flavor isn’t very natural.

Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer natural cigars but this wasn’t bad

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

Debonaire Maduro First Degree

Debonaire is the brand of Philip Zanghi. Zanghi first made his steps into the cigar industry in the 1990s in a partnership with Rocky Patel. They were both new to the business. With Zanghi’s connection with Indian Motorcycles, they formed Indian Tobac. In a later stage, Patel bought Zanghi’s shares. Zanghi ventured into other parts of the tobacco industry.

But returned to cigars in 2011 with Debonaire. First only with the Habano, but in 2014 he released the Debonaire Maduro too. And now there’s a third blend, Daybreak, with a Connecticut Shade wrapper.

The Debonaire Maduro is made at the De Los Reyes factory on the Dominican Republic. That factory is owned by the Reyes family. The 5th generation Reyes has entered the business, and that says a lot about the long lasting love affair with tobacco. For the filler Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco is used. The binder is also from the Dominican. The wrapper comes from the USA. It’s a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro.

The dark wrapper is toothy and rough. It could easily be mistaken for Brazilian Mata Fina by the looks. But the aroma is good and strong. There is a strong earthy smell to the cigar with some pepper. The shape is great and makes the cigar look cute. That little tampered foot eases the rough look on the wrapper. It’s like an ugly kid with a cute outfit that makes it adorable. The construction feels good.


The cold draw is surprisingly good. With that tampered foot, a tighter cold draw was expected. The flavors are very peppery. The first hit is a strong earthy coffee. Once the cigar opens up, the Maduro sweetness shines through too. There’s also a hint of extra dark chocolate. That chocolate is slowly becoming the dominant flavor. The flavors remain practically the same all throughout the cigar. The bigger sizes will probably offer more variety in flavor. The finale brings strong bittersweet chocolate with some wood.

The draw is great. The smoke is thick and full. The color is a bit off-white. The ash is quite dark. The burn was straight until one side hit a big vein. Then it gets crooked and had to be corrected. This is a medium-full flavored and bodied cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, for the occasions where I don’t have a lot of time.

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Categories: 90, De Los Reyes, Debonaire, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Patoro Serie P Jeroboam

Patoro Serie P Jeroboam. This is a Swiss cigar brand. But the cigars are Dominican made. They are made at De Los Reyes. Other brands that are made at that factory are Puros de Hostos, Indian Motorcycle, Debonaire, Saga and more. Ministry of Cigars reviewed the Saga Short Tales Tomo VI, Debonaire Habano, Debonaire Maduro, and the Indian Motorcycle Maduro from the same factory. And now the Patoro Serie P Jeroboam, which is a perfecto shaped cigar. The filler and binder are Dominican. The wrapper is Cameroon according to the Patoro website. But there are a few vitolas exclusively for the American market. And those are wrapped in a Brazilian Maduro wrapper.

When we bought this cigar, we didn’t know anything about it. It was recommended by a retailer in The Netherlands. He had got them in, we never smoked it, so we bought a few to review. Something unknown, odd shape, why not try it? With a price tag of 11 euro, it’s not a cheap cigar and it’s probably hard to find now. Patoro is no longer available on the Dutch market as the distributor stopped selling premium long fillers (again). And no other distributor has taken on the brand yet.

The shape looks cool. Because of the curve at the foot of the cigar, it looks a bit like the Opus X Chili Pepper. Yet not as curved as that cigar. The ring is simple, glossy orange with a P and a star. No further information. The oily wrapper has a few veins. The construction feels good. The aroma is good. A mixture of chocolate, pepper, and wood.

For the shape, the cold draw is surprisingly easy. And it tastes peppery yet sweet. Once lit, the flavors are coffee with sweetness and leather. Then some nice spices show up. All-spice, cinnamon, and gingerbread. All quite sweet but pleasantly sweet. The mouthfeel is dry. The flavors remain the same in the first half, but then wood shows up. Still with the spice and some pepper. The sweetness remains strong as well. Slowly there’s more leather and even a little vanilla.

The draw is great. The burn is beautiful. And the light-colored ash is firm. The smoke is nice white and plentiful. This is a medium-full bodied cigar. The flavors are also medium-full. And well rounded. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? 11 euro is a bit too high priced. If it was 8 euro I would not hesitate.

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Categories: 90, De Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Patoro | Tags: , , , , ,

Dalay Affentanz Hell

The German retailer Dalay is owned and operated by real cigar aficionados. And ones that have the guts to take bold decisions. One of those decisions was to create its own cigar brand. The brand carries the same name as the shop, Dalay. It is sold all over Germany. And in 2017, two limited editions were released under the name ‘affentanz’. That’s German for monkey dance. Another bold decision to use that name. In the current political climate, some might consider that racist.

The Dalay Affentanz Hell is the Connecticut Shade version of the Affentanz. There is only one size available, a 5×52 belicoso with a very sharp head. The filler comes from the Dominican Republic and Brazil. The binder is Dominican. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade. The cigars have a price tag of €9,50.

The wrapper is light, it has that yellow-brown color of Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade which I find unappealing. The construction feels good, but the cigar looks a bit off with the steep point. The rings are cool, with a funny peeled banana logo and a monkey on the back. The woody aroma is strong.

The cold draw is great. I taste spicy licorice and pepper, but with that faint Connecticut Shade mustiness which I hate. The first puffs are harsh, strong. I taste coffee, leather, and earthiness. The leather is the most pronounced flavor. There is also a little grass, plus some sweetness from Brazilian tobacco. The flavors evolve to more wood with leather. But there is some sweetness and even a creamy chocolate flavor. All slightly harsh though, the flavors aren’t rounded. After a third, the flavors get more refined. I taste leather, chocolate, nuts, grass, and sweetness. In the final third, the dreaded Connecticut Shade flavor shows up, but it is faint. The flavors remain the same until the end, except for growing pepper.


The draw is great. As is the smoke. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The salt and pepper colored ash is firm. The smoke time is one hour and thirty minutes

.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s still a Connecticut Shade cigar, but not a bad one

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Categories: 90, Dalay, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera Zauberberg | Tags: , , , , ,

Gurkha Ghost Gold Shadow

Gurkha Ghost Gold Shadow. Gurkha is a controversial brand. For most people, it is a ‘love it or hate it’ brand. And when you have to believe the social media, most cigar smokers are in the hate it section. Yet, the sales numbers don’t seem to show that, as the brand is selling like hotcakes. Our personal experience is more negative than positive. Yet, as cigar geeks with an open mind, we give each new blend a try. The regular Gurkha Ghost is a good cigar, so maybe this follow-up Gurkha Ghost Gold is good too.


The cigars are made at PDR in the Dominican Republic. It has the same filler and binder as the regular Gurkha Ghost. The fillers are from the Dominican, Nicaragua, and the United States. The wrapper is replaced. Instead of the dark Brazilian Arapiraca, Gurkha uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper for the Ghost Gold blend. And as it turns out, it’s an updated version of an old blend. That means it will be grandfathered in if the FDA gets their way. The FDA is currently trying to regulate premium cigars and it will be close to impossible to have new blends on the market. Since this is an old blend, it would be grandfathered.


The cigar looks great. The foot is closed. The ring is the same as the regular Ghost line, yet with gold instead of silver. The wrapper is dark and very oily. It’s almost glossy. The cigar has the right sponginess. The triple cap is beautiful. The aroma is dark, hay with charred wood.


The wrapper is quite salty. And the cold draw is a bit tights because of the closed foot. The flavors are raw tobacco and salt. Once lit the draw is fine. The flavors are wood, salt, leather, earthy and coffee from the start. There is some sweetness at the background as well. The sweetness becomes stronger, and a little creamy. There’s a mild chocolate flavor to the sweetness too. There’s some pepper as well. So far, this cigar hits almost every section of the flavor wheel in the diagram below. And all within the first ten minutes. Then it turns to nuts and wood, with spices. This cigar has a very dynamic start. The chocolate sweetness remains while the cigar gets more peppery and spicy, with some hay flavors as well. The wood is still there, with leather. After a third, it’s nutty and woody with leather and pepper. The pepper is growing. The mouthfeel is dry. The final third starts out with nuts, salt, spices, pepper, and leather.


The draw is great. The smoke is good but could be a little thicker. The burn needs corrections every now and then. The dark gray ash isn’t really firm. This cigar is medium-full, both in body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and thirty minutes. Is it better than the regular Gurkha Ghost? Not in my book, but this is still an enjoyable cigar.

Would I buy this cigar again? Every once in a while

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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Gurkha, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Charatan Robusto

Tor Imports is one of the several distributors of premium cigars in the United Kingdom. Probably the most important independent distributor of New World cigars. They carry a whole range of well-known brands, but they also have a private label blend. Not just cigar, but also pipe tobacco. The name of the brand? Charatan, house of Edgeworth. Tor Imports owner Scott Vines shared some samplers with Ministry of Cigars during the 2018 Intertabac Trade show. A few were saved for review purposes.

The cigars are made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. And there’s a similarity with the Tobacco Lords for Robert Graham 1874. Not coincidentally, as Tor Imports is a supplier of Robert Graham. And imports and distributes the Tobacco Lords cigars in the United Kingdom. Tor Imports didn’t reveal a lot about the blend. After online searches, we believe that this cigar is a Nicaraguan puro.

The first thing that stands out is the ring. White with gold and a very Davidoff feel to it. Which was copied by MBombay’s MQBA as well. And because of the dots around the logo, there’s some Rocky Patel in there as well. The Colorado colored wrapper is a bit dry. The different color of the fillers can be seen clearly in the foot of the cigar. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong. It’s strong hay and straw smell.

The cold draw is a bit tight, with a grass and hay taste. A little spicy as well. From the start, the cigar is nutty, earthy, and toasty. Some sweetness shows up too and there is also some grassiness. The flavors are smooth, not very outspoken. But they are there and they are good. After a third, some pepper shows up. It’s earthy, mildly spicy, with some sweetness and nuts. The nut flavor is mild though. The flavors are all well balanced. The nuts disappear halfway, it’s now mainly earthy with pepper and some acidity. Near the end, the nuttiness returns.

The draw is on the tight side of good. The smoke is decent. The ash is light colored and firm. The burn is straight and slow. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The cigar is nice, yet not very exciting. The smoke time is an incredible two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I will. A single every now and then

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Categories: 90, Charatan, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Nuggs Habano

Jas Sum Kral Nuggs Habano. In the last few years, more and more scientific research is showing the positive effects of Cannabidiol. That is one of the two main components of marijuanaIt is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis, but not the one that gets you high. That’s the THC. But it is the part of the marijuana plant that has the medicinal benefits, and scientific studies are proving that. Since it’s getting legal in more and more states in the United States, and countries worldwide, it was a matter of time before cigar manufacturers started to experiment. But spraying cigars with CBD oil is ineffective and resulted in unsmokeble cigars. That’s when Jas Sum Kral owner Riste Riatevski hired a laboratory and a chemist to completely re-engineer the process. With success, as they managed to break it down and infuse cigars without altering the flavor, yet remain the positive effects of CBD. And it’s patented, so Jas Sum Kral is the only company that can make cigars this way.

Jas Sum Kral released the Jas Sum Kral Nuggs. That is a cigar with its unique CBD infusion technique. So unique that even the needles that distribute the CBD in the cigar had to be designed by the company and those are patented too. According to Jas Sum Kral, the CBD can’t be detected by any modern equipment nor by sniffing dogs. And every single batch is tested by a third-party laboratory. The blend is not disclosed officially, but is the same as for the Nuggs Maduro, except for the wrapper. That means an Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan fillers. It’s only available in a 5×48 Robusto for now.

The first noticeable thing is the cellophane. It’s cut and that is done so all the cigars can be injected with the CDB. Jas Sum Kral created special trays, all cigars arrive at the laboratory in a vertical position so they can be injected with the CDB solution without human handling. That saves time and cost. The aqua green ring has the golden Jas Sum Kral logo but the print quality could be better. It’s such a detailed ring, it deserves a better quality finish. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper has a few veins. The closed foot, something Jas Sum Kral is known for, is absent. But that is a result of the CDB injection, closed feet weren’t possible. The cigar feels good, well filled. The aroma is strong, hay and barnyard.

 

Because I was traveling light, I could not bring a cutter. I used my fingernail to cut the cigar. The cold draw is perfect with a mild sweet hay taste. The cigar has a dry taste, leather, soil, and almonds. The cigar gets a little sweet with grass and hay as well. After a centimeter, there is a slight bitterness, medicinal like. The marzipan like sweetness gets a little stronger. There’s soil, leather, wood, and sweetness. After a third, pepper shows up too. The bitterness gets stronger, to a level that it’s slightly unpleasant. The bitterness comes and goes. There’s also some gingerbread flavor. In the final third, the bitterness is gone

 

The draw is fantastic. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is good, nice and thick. The cigar is medium in body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it was better priced.

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Categories: 90, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Aragon | Tags: , , , ,

Maria Mancini Edicion Limitada 2018 Corona

Maria Mancini is over twenty years old. And all those times the cigars have been made in Honduras. The brand is owned by the 100-year-old German August Schuster Zigarren from Bunde. They are one of the oldest cigar manufacturers in Germany, and one of the last German cigar producers still standing. For the last few years, they have released a Maria Mancini limited edition every year. In 2016 it was a Maria Mancini Robusto Particular. In 2017 the size was a Toro Lindo. For 2018, several sizes were made.

For the review, I chose the Corona Colorado. That’s a 5½x46 Corona sized cigar.

Not a lot has been revealed about the cigar. Even though the brand is over twenty years old, the factory is unknown. And the blend for the 2018 Edicion Limitada is undisclosed as well. The only thing that’s know is that the filler is from both Honduras and Nicaragua. Where the wrapper is from, or the binder is a mystery.

The cigar has a nice pig tail. The Colorado colored wrapper has thin veins. The ring is a bit dull. The image of Maria Mancini could use a little update, that would make the cigar more appealing in the humidor. The aroma is very nice. Spicy and green. Like lovage and natural fertilizer. The construction feels good.

The cold draw is a little loose. I taste raw tobacco, a little harsh, with some salt. The first puff gives a strong, bitter, coffee and leather flavor. The bitterness is a bit too strong. After a few puffs, some vanilla shows up. The bitterness slowly mellows down to an acceptable level. The vanilla is getting stronger, with a grassy flavor and some green herbs. Even though there is more balance and sweetness, the coffee and leather are lingering around. There’s some pepper in the flavor as well. The green herbs are getting stronger after a third. That goes for the vanilla and the sweetness too. With some pepper, leather, soil, and wood as supporting flavors. The flavors remain the same in the last part. Some coffee, some leather, some pepper, and a lot of sweetness. The final third is quite enjoyable with at the end some nuts.

The smoke is fantastic. Thick, white and full. The draw is good, although it could have been a little tighter. The ask is quite firm and has a nice light gray color. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s the best of the three Maria Mancini cigars I smoked so far. But I think I’ll pass.

number90

Categories: 90, Honduran cigars, Maria Manchini | Tags: , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Toothpick 2.0 Maduro

Jas Sum Kral owner Riste decided to utilize leftover tobaccos from his other blends with this mixed filler called Toothpicks. The name probably refers to the small pieces of tobacco that can get in between your teeth while smoking shredded pieces of tobacco, used in short filler or medium filler cigar. He created a Maduro and a Habano blend, both with the same filler and binder, but with a different wrapper.

The wrapper from this Maduro comes from San Andres, Mexico. The cigars are rolled at Tabacalera Aragon in Esteli, Nicaragua. The filler is a mixture of three different Nicaraguan tobaccos. One from Jalapa, one from Esteli and the third one from Ometepe. Wrapped in an Indonesian binder and the Mexican wrapper you have the Toothpick Maduro. Only available in a 5×50 vitola.

I love the ring. The ring is mirrored in one white and one black side. The black has white letters, the white has black letters and they are exact copies. But when the black side is up, you’re smoking the Maduro, when the white side is up, you’re smoking the Habano. The ring is designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim. The wrapper is dark, oily and smooth. The construction feels good, the cap is nice. The cigar has a medium strong woody aroma.


The cold draw is good, with an oaky taste. After lighting, I taste nuts, earth, coffee, and wood. Almonds and cinnamon are noticeable too, with a little bit of pepper and some butter. The Maduro wrapper causes the cigar to have a mild sweetness. After half a centimeter, it’s a wooden, chocolate flavor with some nutmeg spices and a little sweetness from the Maduro wrapper. The second third starts with some salt, pepper, leather and a lower grade chocolate flavor. Not an unpleasant mix, but also not as pleasant as a dark chocolate flavor. The flavors aren’t clean and crisp. These flavors go on for the rest of the cigars, with sometimes some oak, sometimes some cedar. But mostly chocolate, nuts, and pepper.

The draw is amazing. The burn needed some corrections. The smoke is thick and full. This is a medium bodied, medium-full flavored cigar. The smoke time is one hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Not for European or Asian prices, they are more expensive than premium longfillers. But for American prices, yes.

number90

Categories: 90, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Aragon | Tags: , , , ,

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