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Illusione ~HL~ Natural

There are three different Illusione ~HL~ blends on the market, this one, the original Illusione ~HL~, the ~HL~ Candela and the ~HL~ Maduro. And I have reviewed all three of them by the time you read this review, but I may or may not have published the reviews yet. I always have a bunch of reviews in stock so that if I cannot review for a while due to a busy schedule, a vacation with wife & kids, health issues of what other reason, I can still update my blog. So if you can’t find the reviews of the other Illusione ~HL~ blends yet, check back soon.


The Illusione ~HL~ is the 5 1/2×40 lancero from the Illusione brand, a brand created by Dion Giolito, and most of the cigars have names that are either numbers of have something to do with history or conspiracy theories. The ~HL~ stands for Holy Lance and refers to a lance that pierced Jesus his side when he was on the cross and later carried by the first Christian emperor of Rome, as the myth goes the lance gave him protection and special powers and therefore it was holy. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro although it classified as a Honduran cigar as it’s made by Raices Cubanas, a factory known for Illusione, La Palina, Viaje and most of all Alec Bradley.


The cafe colorado wrapper looks pretty with a few thin veins and a silky touch. The construction feels good and the tiny pigtail fits the slender cigar. The cigar has a very faint aroma, I had to sniff a few times before it hit me: dog poo on a barnyard, and trust me, that’s different and less gross than dog poop under your shoes. The small ring is white with gothic letters in golden print and golden outlines.


I cut the cigar with my guillotine cutter, the cold draw is perfect with a mild raisin flavor and a mild peppery aftertaste. I lit the cigar with my Ronson and taste coffee and leather. After half a centimeter I also taste cocoa and some pepper. After an inch the cigar turns to wood with nutmeg and pepper and for a short while the cigar was a little harsh. Halfway the cigar gets more spicy and peppery. The pepper still gains strength. After two thirds I taste nutmeg, cinnamon, a little cocoa and pepper with just a little lime in the aftertaste. Soon after I also taste some wood.


The smoke is thick and there is a lot of it. The draw is fantastic. The ash is salt and pepper colored and reasonably firm. The burn is straight but not razor sharp. I usually don’t notice but this cigar has a very pleasant smell. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes a mixed box with the others would be nice.

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, Honduran cigars, Illusione, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Puros de Hostos Churchill & Box Pressed Toro

I’ve not written about the Puros de Hostos Lancero before and thats a surprise. This Dominican boutique brand that I came across while being part of the tasting panel for the Belgian/Dutch cigar magazine El Gusto blew me away. It had such an amazing palate that I brought a cigar to my then employer and even though the price was relatively high we decided to start carrying the cigars, and for a while they sold like hotcakes. For this review I will smoke two cigars, the Churchill and the Box Pressed Toro.

The unique thing about the Puros de Hostos Commendador is that the tobacco is fermented four times, while usually tobacco is fermented twice and Habanos prides themselves for fermenting the Cohiba tobacco three times. Yet Gustavo de Hostos, who’s also a crooner, diplomat and businessman, wanted to ferment to tobacco four times before the cigars were made and so it is done. As a proud Dominican he wanted a Dominican puro, so all tobacco used is Dominican.

Puros de Hostos Comendador Churchill

I just love the look of a Churchill sized cigar, long and du to the length the cigars look thiner then they are. This one measures 7×48. The wrapper is a milk chocolate brown with hardly any vins, it looks thin and fragile but it isn’t. The rings are very busy with a lot of patterns in gold on a black label and the foot ring has the same, a nice golden lettering but the decorations make it information overload. The construction has the right amount of sponginess and a beautifully formed cap. The aroma is very mild and is a mixture of mild chocolate and mint.


Since it’s a Dominican puro I decided to cut the cigar with the xikar cutter from the procigar festival 2014, that came with the gift box. The cold draw is great, a perfect amount of resistance. I taste spicy raw tobacco and a hint of mint. After lighting I taste a mild acidic earthy flavor. Slowly the lime like acid gets a bit stronger, with the earthy flavor and some black pepper. After an inch the lime fades a bit and is replaced with a little bit of honey. After a third I taste a beautiful, well balanced, mixture of citrus, pepper, wood, earthiness with a hint of spices and if I snowed this cigar blind I wouldn’t have guessed it’s Dominican. The flavors grow in strength without losing the smoothness. The pepper turns to white pepper and is predominant. Suddenly the honey returns, with some fresh wood, dill and the white pepper. The final third starts with chocolate with wood, honey and pepper. Then the flavor gets nutty for a bit with a lime and pepper aftertaste. Near the end the cigar turns woody with a nice sweetness.


The draw is just perfect, nothing less. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume but it’s getting thicker and thicker along the way. The light gray ash is beautifully layered and quite firm, but it’s crooked though. The burn is pretty straight. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I want more, the flavor profile is unique.

Score: 91
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Puros de Hostos Comendador Box Pressed Toro

Now this cigar didn’t made it to the market in The Netherlands if I remember correctly, but I might be mistaken. Box pressed, some love it, some hate it and I am impartial to it as long as its a good cigar. This Puros de Hostos looks great, intimidating because of the length and ring gauge of 6 1/2×54 and the dark brown colored wrapper with a lot of oil. I see one vein on the left side of the cigar but that doesn’t make the cigar less of a looker. The construction feels good, well packed and most importantly, evenly packed. The ring is the same as the Churchill and the aroma is medium strong, its like standing in a hay stack.


Because of the 54 ring I opted to punch the cigar. The cold draw is a bit loose, I taste black pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee and oak, with a little hint of pepper. After half an inch I taste spicy oak with cinnamon and a little sugar. After a third I taste lemon, oak, spices and a little white pepper. At the end I taste minty chocolate.


The draw is a bit on the loose side. The smoke is great, thick, white and a lot in volume. The ash is light gray and beautifully layered. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full flavored and full bodied, yet smooth, complex and has depth. The smoke time is exactly two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Del Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Puros de Hostos | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Maduro Sublime

On July 22nd of 2007 Jerry Cruz from the famous Stogiereview website had a son, JJhis little robusto as he called him, but only three and a half months later tragedy hit and little JJ passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The first cigar Jerry smoked after little JJ was born was the Don Pepin Garcia series JJ and for the first few years stogiereview had a “Smoke a JJ for JJ” day on july 22nd. I don’t know if that still takes place, but I felt I had to smoke and review this cigar on JJ’s 10th birthday even though I have never met Jerry, we are still part of a community and I hope he finds comfort in the knowledge that little JJ is not forgotten. Jerry, brother, this is for you and your wife.


I had this cigar in my humidor for years, so it is aged and depending on your definition of vintage it might even qualify for that. The cigar is made by My Father cigars ofcourse, and it is a Nicaraguan puro, with a Nicaraguan maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo filler and a Nicaraguan binder. The JJ comes from José and Jaime, the father & son team from My Father, José ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and his son Jaime. By the time this cigar was released it was the first maduro wrapped cigar under their own name and still, up to today, the Garcia family doesn’t use a lot of maduro wrappers for their own production, the only other line I can think of is the Flor de Las Antillas Maduro but correct me if I’m wrong. They do use and have used maduro wrappers on cigars they produce for other companies though.


Once I take the cigar out of the cellophane, that started to discolor, I see a beautiful dark wrapper with lots of tooth, that makes it feel like leather and a sparkle from the minerals. The wrapper is gorgeous, nothing more nothing less. The same goes for the rings, instead of full white as My Father used for the regular JJ series, the maduro series uses the same rings but then in beige. Like I said, this cigar has been aged so it has the older rings. The bottom ring is small and just says “Series JJ Maduro” in beautiful golden letters on a beige ring with a thin red line and golden dots as decoration. The other ring is curved, it has a beautiful curly font saying Don Pepin Garcia with golden and red decorations around it. On one site there is a small image of the Cuban flag and a Cuban shield while the other side has the American flag and the statue of liberty. Behind that there is a decorative figure with the letters DPG that remind me of Pete Johnson’s logo after he learned he couldn’t use the Flor de Lis no more. The print quality of the rings is immaculate too. The cigar feels quite hard, but that doesn’t have to be an issue and the triple cap is nicely done. As for the aroma, as a teenager my little sister was having horse riding classes and sometimes I had to pick her up from the stables, the aroma of the cigar reminds me of those stables and it is medium strong.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is great and tastes like a mix of raisin, milk chocolate, pepper and lemon. As usual I used a soft flame to light the cigar and I taste a mellow coffee with a little lemon. After just a few puffs I also taste some leather and slowly the coffee disappears. After an inch it’s all leather with some lemon and added pepper. After a third the pepper gets stronger while the lemon turns to lime. Halfway the leather gets weaker while cedar shows up, the lime and continuously growing pepper are still there too. Halfway the leather replaces the cedar again, although the cedar lingers around in the aftertaste. After two thirds it’s leather with pepper, a hint of vanilla and a minty aftertaste. The final few puffs gave me nuts.


The smoke is medium thick. The ash is white, dense and firm. Even in the ash you can see some sparkles of the minerals. The draw is excellent. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is medium full bodied and equally flavored, there is a good balance between flavor and body and enough evolution. The smoke time is little over an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m glad I still have a full box of these puppies.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Don Pepin Garcia, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vegas de Santiago D8 Robusto

When I was a novice cigar smoker I smoked a lot of Vegas de Santiago cigars from Costa Rica and always liked them. I reviewed quite a lot of them too but due to finding a job in the industry and having more cigars to smoke than is humanly possible and Vegas de Santiago not being available on the Dutch market I haven’t smoked one in years. Until now that is, I’m going to review the D8, made with undisclosed filler and an Ecuadorian binder and wrapper.


Why I went to the bottom of my humidor to grab this cigar? Pretty simple, I was talking with another cigar distributer in The Netherlands about employment and they asked me what brand I would suggest if they wanted something different and reasonably priced. I got them in touch with Vegas de Santiago and earlier this week I saw a post which suggested that Vegas de Santiago is coming to the Dutch market. Maybe I should have asked for a commission but that’s too late now (now please remind: this review has been written a few months ago, on may first, but I have a lot of unpublished reviews waiting to be published so there’s always a delay.


The Habano 2000 wrapper looks great, a medium dark brown but smooth looking wrapper with one medium flattened vein. The construction feels great with a nice cap and a beautifully rounded head. The ring is classic, white with a red centre, golden and black lines and letters but well printed. The cigar had a nice, medium strong, manure aroma.


I punched the cigar, my preferred way of decapping a cigar. The cold draw is perfect with a raw tobacco and mild peppery taste. I immediately taste a nice dose of full coffee after lighting the cigar with my soft flame. After a third I taste a buttery, creamy wood with pepper. Halfway I taste wood, herbs, spices and a little pepper, all mild creamy. Soon after it’s buttery wood with pepper. The final third star with walnuts and pepper, still a little buttery creamy.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is firm and dense. The smoke could be a little thicker but the volume is good. Later the smoke gets thicker. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with good evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked this cigar a lot.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Tabacalera Vegas de Santiago, Vegas de Santiago | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Nicoya Fuerte Robusto

In January I wrote a review about a new brand, Nicoya, and I smoked the Nicoya Medio, the milder of the two lines that the Australian entrepreneur and cigar aficionado Gerard Hayes has made by A.J. Fernandez in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. As for the name, as I wrote back in January, according to Hayes the name is chosen to praise the Nicaraguans yet there are others that claim that Nicaraguans aren’t called Nicoya but it’s a piece of Costa Rica that used to be Nicaraguan. As I said back then, I’m not an expert and not knowledgable enough to pick sides so I’m just gonna leave it there.


The Nicoya Fuerte only comes in one size 5×52 that Hayes picked because its the most popular size when it comes to sales and it can be smoked is a reasonable time. The filler is all Nicaraguan while the binder and wrapper are Ecuadorean habano, or Sun Grown as we call that in Europe since the Cubans were able toe trademark “habano” and “cuba” even though international laws clearly state you can’t trademark a country. As I take the cigar out of the cellophane I smell a very strong barnyard aroma with some ammonia. The wrapper, that is dark like dark oak feels very silky. The construction feels good with a beautifully rounded single cap. The ring is amazing, very simple, 2 smaller and one bigger purple circle with a white N in the middle circle and white lions in the smaller circles and white lettering Nicoya Cigars Esteli Nicaragua on the silver borders. The back of the ring are wing shaped and thats a nice detail.


I punched the cigar, the ring gauge is 52 so big enough to punch. The cold draw is surprisingly easy and has a little raisin and a lot of pepper. After I used my trusted Ronson to light the cigar I taste a strong coffee with pepper. After a centimeter I taste coffee, less strong as in the beginning, with some leather, spice and a little citrus. After an inch I also taste cocoa and the pepper is back full force. The citrus gained more strength. Halfway it’s leather, cedar, pepper and now a mild citrus mix of flavors. Soon after I taste dark chocolate, like the 72% dark chocolate and the pepper is habanero. Every now and then I also taste hints of vanilla. The finish is a solid coffee again, more towards espresso to be precise.


The smoke is amazing, so thick, so full and so much, the maximum amount of points there and my air cleaner is working overtime. The draw is great, just a tiny bit loose. The ash is light gray and firm, it’s dense too. The burn is good, not perfect but also not touch ups needed. This cigar is full bodied, no question about that, and full flavored. The flavors also linger around for a long time. The smoke time is a solid hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, although the Nicoya Medios is a bit more balanced. This is an after barbecue cigar.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicoya, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Illusione ~HL~ Candela

Illusione by Dion Giolito took the market by storm, from the moment it was released the brand was a favorite amongst the well informed cigar geeks. And amongst them was a 7 1/4×40 lancero, made in Honduras by Raices Cubans, famous for producing several great bands like Viaje, Alec Bradley and La Palina too. Well, as a special Dion Giolito decided to create a candela version of his lancero, the ~hl~ holy lance. Now I can tell you, it was such a success that it became a regular production with a line excention so my expectations are high.


How the cigar is named after the mythical holy lance that the first Christian leader of Rome carried that that gave him special powers. The lance became so powerful because it punctured Jesus his side while he was on the cross. Now I am not religious so I don’t care about that story, but I am a lover of lanceros and since I read this is a mild cigar I am smoking it early afternoon instead of the usual evening review.


I never liked the look of candela wrappers and this one isn’t the exception of the rule, the wrapper is pale green but the construction feels good with a beautiful triple cap. The ring is simple, a thin white ring with the roman style font that Illusione always uses in golden letters. Now that gold fits the wrapper beautifully though. The cigar has a faint aroma that is a little grassy, which is also typical for candela wrappers.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is fine. I just taste some tobacco but the flavor is mild. I lit the cigar with my trusted Ronson lighter. I taste some mild coffee and a little chocolate. After half a centimeter the flavors turn grassy, something I expect from a candela wrapper. Slowly a mild lime flavor shows up with some cedar and a little spice. I still get hints of chocolate too. After an inch I taste nuts, salt and some pepper. After a third the cigar turns grassy again with some nutmeg. Halfway I taste pepper in the aftertaste and the cigar gets stronger and spicier overall. The final third starts with pepper and cedar but I also taste a faint chocolate again.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is full in thickness and in volume but ugly gray in color. The dark ash is layered and not very firm. The burn is superb. The cigar starts out mild but ends as medium plus while it is medium to full flavored. The smoke time is little over an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t mind half a box.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Honduran cigars, Illusione, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

La Flor de Cano Casanova RE Italy

I worked in several industries from pharmaceutical to the entertainment industry and the cigar industry. While in most industries its just work and once you’re gone you’re out of sight and out of mind, the cigar industry is different. You form friendships and connections that last even when you leave the industry, weather its on free will or not. And this cigar is proof of that. How you might ask? Well, I got this cigar from Yuri Dijkstra, owner of the La Casa del Habano Almere, probably the most beautiful shop in The Netherlands and trust me, I’ve seen them all. I’m not a big fan of Cuban cigars, so me saying this about a La Casa del Habano means a lot. But him giving me a cigar isn’t proof of the bonding you do in the cigar industry. Oh, and to add, the day he gave me the cigar this Regional Edition of Italy was only released a few days before.


I saw Yuri at the funeral of Berry van Nugteren, owner of Van Lookeren Cigars in Amsterdam (if you’re ever in Amsterdam, visit them, great people, fantastic lounge). Berry was not just a shop owner but always looking for ways to elevate the whole game in The Netherlands, helping others, having a vision for the future and that didn’t change when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He kept fighting, not just for his health, but also to grow the market for everybody. I met Berry years before, as an account, but I visited him at home to smoke a cigar when he was ill and unable to go to the shop, he lend me his Porsche Cayenne when I had to drive Andre Farkas, Abe & Judy Flores and myself with our luggage to Intertabac and hardly fit into my Volvo V40, he visited me at my private lounge in my home to smoke a few cigars and even though I lost my job in the industry we stayed in touch and I visited his funeral where I ran into Yuri. Yuri is very partial to Cubans while I’m all about Nicaragua, yet we formed a friendship too that exists even after he sold his shop and started a La Casa del Habano where I had nothing to sell to, so it’s not about business and that makes the cigar industry so great.


Even though this cigar was released mid april 2017, it is the 2016 Edicion Regional for Italy, a petit robusto, 4 1/3×50 sized for the La Flor de Cano brand and is dubbed Casanova after the legendary ladies man. The wrapper looks good, quite dark for a Cuban cigar with a spark of minerals, a mild shine and no big veins. I can see a big vein on the binder though. When I look at the foot of the cigar it looks very well packed and it feels the same way which makes me worry about the draw, something I do anyway with Cuban cigars. The ring is a new design, much better than the old one. A white ring with golden details and a red circle with the old logo in gold. It looks clean, sharp and is very clear. I am digging this new ring a lot. The secondary ring is the regular exclusivo ring we have seen for the last 12 years. Much to my surprise I don’t smell ammonia in this young cigar but pure manure.


I punched the cigar and the draw is a little tight so I decided to cut instead which only improved the draw by a little bit. I taste a sharp and spicy raisin flavor. One I lit the cigar I taste a mildly harsh leather with a mild chocolate sweetness. After half an inch I taste herbs with salt and a faint chocolate. Halfway I taste nuts, salt and pepper. The cigar is gaining strength with an almost Nicaraguan, original Don Pepin twang pepper.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw and the tightly packed construction suggested. The smoke is medium in body and volume. The ash is quite dark and firm and there are white spots on the dark ash. The burn is straight and slow. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored, strong for a Cuban.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a Cuban that I would love to smoke more often.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Cuban cigars, Flor de Cano (Habanos), La Corona | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Kristoff Classic Blend Toro

Last september, at the Intertabac trade show I ran into Glen Case and Ward from Kristoff, a brand that I used to represent when I was still employed at my previous employer and Ward gave me their new release for the European market, the Kristoff Classic Blend. Now my American readers might think “I don’t know that one”, well, its just the Kristoff Habano but somehow the Cubans got Habano trademarked so that can’t be used. A lot of brands like Oliva, Perdomo and many others use ‘Sun Grown’ instead but Kristoff decided to go with Classic for this Brazilian Habano wrapped cigar with the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The brand won an award at the Cigarjournal dinner too, so it was a succesful trip for the company.


Ever since I smoked my first Kristoff cigar I loved the brand, the cigars look good, taste good and are budget friendly priced but unfortunately we can only get a few blends in The Netherlands and this isn’t one of them so I saved the cigar that Ward gave me for a review and today I decided it was time to light it. The cigar, like all but one Kristoff cigars, are made at the Charles Fairmorn factory in Santiago, DR and I guess they are the best client of Charles Fairmorn as I don’t hear a lot about that factory. I know they make Epic cigars too, but that is just a very small brand here in The Netherlands and judging from the Social Media information I get Kristoff if a much bigger brand in the USA too than Epic.


The cigar has the same look as all other Kristoff cigars, that means a closed foot, which I love, and a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the pigtail and closed foot, combined with the dark, shiny and oily wrapper make this cigar a looker. The ring is silver colored with brown details and beige letters saying ‘hencho a mano dominicana’ and ‘Kristoff’ while the smaller bottom ring says ‘classic blend’ in the same colors. The aroma is a bit manure, a bit horse and a bit freshly plowed farmfield, medium strong.


Because of the pigtail I had no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good and I taste raisin and pepper. I used my vintage Ronson to light the cigar and I taste a mild coffee. After a centimeter I still taste the coffee but now with a nice metallic aftertaste. After an inch I taste wood with a little bit of nuts and some lime, in the aftertaste I taste a mild pepper. After a third the main flavor is lemon with some cocoa, cedar and vanilla, the flavors are subtle. The lemon gets a little less stronger while the cocoa turns into chocolate. Later the cigar turns full cedar with pepper and just a little lemon. A few puffs later I taste some lightly salted peanuts too. Slowly the pepper gains some strength. Near the end I taste nuts with autumn leaves and a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is a bit too loose and that leads to a poor amount of thin smoke in the beginning but after a few puffs the draw improved and with that the smoke too. I had to correct the burn too in the first centimeter but after that it was straight and easy going. The ash is beautifully white. I would call this a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes. Especially the last third is fantastic.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kristoff Pistoff Corona Gorda

When I heard that Kristoff came out with a new cigar under de name Pistoff I couldn’t do anything but smile, what a great name. And I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them even thought this Kristoff blend isn’t available in The Netherlands yet. But luckily I had to meet up with Ward Hall from Kristoff Cigars at the Intertabac trade show anyway and I mooched one of these cigars in a 5 3/4×48 corona gordo vitola with the blend of Nicaraguan fillers, an Indonesian binder and a Mexican San Andres wrapper.


At my previous employer I was responsible for selling Kristoff on the Dutch market and I love some of the Kristoff blends, they are very well made and flavorful cigars for a very decent price here and because I like the brand the Pistoff was high on my “to try” list. Now I admit, I’m a cigar geek and everything I haven’t tried yet is on my “to try” with the exemption of Connecticut shade wrapped cigars and the big ring gauge sticks, it’s only a matter on how high the cigar on that list is, this one was pretty high. The cigar looks good, the classic closed foot that all Kristoff Cigars, either made in the Charles Fairmorn factory or the PDR factory, have and a nice and pretty long pig tail. The wrapper is dark and quite intimidating because of the darkness of the wrapper and the placement of the thin veins. The ring is pitch black with red lettering on a good quality paper, if I want to nitpick I can say that the back of the ring was cut crooked, but hey, its a piece of black paper, no lettering at that spot, so it doesn’t matter.


The construction feels flawless and due to the closed foot its hard to determine the exact aroma of the cigar, I would say a mild barnyard aroma. Because of the long pig tail I had no choice but to use my flat cut. It creates a smooth cold draw with just a little raw tobacco flavor. I used my soft flame vintage Ronson to light the cigar. I taste a strong bitter yet sweet coffee, very bold. The sweetness is nice and counter effects the bitterness. After a centimeter I also taste a mild milk chocolate taste.


The bitter coffee has gone, the flavors are now earthy with a spicy sensation on the tip of my tongue, a little tangy too. I also taste a wood and nutmeg flavor, and the flavors are quite dry. Slowly the wood gets stronger, the spices tone down and the tangy turns into a more recognizable citrus. Halfway the nutmeg is back with some cinnamon and some sweetness.


The smoke is a lot, it’s thick too and white. The ash is light colored and well layered. The draw is a little on the loose side but not too bad. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full bodied yet never too strong and full flavored. The smoke time is the only thing that could be improved since it’s only little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, once they come to the Dutch market.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Casa Magna Colorado Lancero

Let me start by saying that even though this cigar will count as my lancero review of the month and will be a contestant in the ‘lancero of the year’ list that I will compile at the end of the year, officialy this is not a lancero. It’s called a lancero, it looks like a lancero, and it comes close to a lancero but the size is not a classic lancero size with a length that is an inch longer and a ring gauge that’s also slightly thicker than what’s considered industry standard for a lancero (7 1/2×38 vs 8 1/2×40 for this Casa Magna Lancero). It’s actually an old size used by Manolo Quesada and back then the name was ‘largo delgado’ which translates to “long skinny”. I still count it as a lancero because the size differences are only minor unlike the Alec Bradley (‘everything is bigger in’) Texas Lancero (7×70).


Casa Magna is a cooperation between the Quesada family, who are well known and respected cigar makers from the Dominican Republic and the Plasencia family from Nicaragua. That Manuel Quesada got the Cigar Journal Lifetime Achievement award last september at the award dinner at Intertabac is a testament to their accomplishments and knowledge. In 2008 they shook the world by becoming the no.1 on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 with this blend and that for a cigar that would usually be featured on the yearly ’top budget cigars’. This all Nicaraguan blend hit the right spot and became an international hit, with offsprings as the Casa Magna Oscuro (from Honduras), Casa Magna Domus Magnus series and most recently a Dominican made Casa Magna. The Casa Magna Lancero was released in 2011 but with a MSRP that was much higher than the other Casa Magna vitola’s at $12.95 and came in boxes of 7 to keep the box price below $100. I reviewed the cigar back in 2011, when it wasn’t for sale in The Netherlands and with my old scores in my old apartment, time for a new try, this time in my man cave, with my 100 point scoring system and cigars legally bought in The Netherlands where they were for sale for a limited time.


The cigar looks great, a nice dark and oily wrapper with a few minor veins, a closed foot and a lovely little pigtail. A well printed ring with quite some details on thick paper. If you scan the ring it looks simple but when you pay more attention you notice all small details and since I started paying more attention to the cigar rings I seem to enjoy the cigars a little more, maybe because of the appreciation of the pieces of art that cigar rings can be. The aroma is amazing, its like walking deep inside a forest in the fall with the smell of fermenting leafs, moss, animals and the aroma is quite strong. Construction wise I don’t have any complaints either, the cigar seems evenly filled and since a lancero is one of the harder vitolas to roll I take my hat off to the roller responsible.


The cigar is too thin to punch so I cut the cigar with my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is a little tough with a little bit of wood and quite some pepper. I used my soft flame to light the cigar. Right from the start I taste coffee with some salt and plenty of pepper. After a few puffs I also taste a little honey sweetness. The coffee goes away, I now taste earthy flavors and some chocolate with chilies. The flavors are very vibrant as you can expect from a cigar with a great filler wrapper ratio as a lancero. Just like the aroma, the flavors remind me of autumn.

After a third I still taste the earthy flavors with pepper but now with something I would describe as autumn leafs. I also taste some salt and a little licorice. The pepper gets stronger and is now the main flavor. On the background I also taste some vanilla. Slowly I also taste a nice wood flavor, oak. Some puffs later I also taste some citrus. The pepper is still the main flavor though, strong and powerful.


The draw is great, better than in the cold draw and since the lancero is so difficult to make again my hat off to the roller. The smoke is white, relatively thick and a decent amount of it. The ash is salt and pepper colored, a bit frayed too. The burn is quite good, not razor sharp, but still good. The cigar is full bodied, full flavored. I really enjoyed this cigar for almost 2 hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Once I’m out I’ll try to find another box, I still have a full one though.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Casa Magna, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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