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Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Lancero

When I was in Nicaragua in 2015 our group, consisting of journalist Marcel Langedijk, photographer Jesaja Hizkia, my then employer Sasja and me, visited Joya de Nicaragua. Marcel and Jesaja were there for the Cigaragua book while Sasja and I were just visiting our partners. And while we were walking through the factory I noticed boxes of Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 lanceros. I’m a huge lancero fan, Sasja hates them, I look at them from a cigar geek point of view and Sasja looks as a salesman and lanceros are hard to find but I managed to convince him to order 50 boxes anyway with the promise I would sell them all. And I did, but I kept 1 box for myself.


The Antaño 1970 once was the official cigar of the Nicaraguan government and it was considered one of the strongest cigars in the world before the rat race in the early 2010’s to make the strongest cigar possible. Its a Nicaraguan puro with filler from three important tobacco regions, Jalapa, Condega and Esteli and an Habano Criollo wrapper. This 7 1/2×38 lancero is one of the 10 vitolas in which this blend is used.


The wrapper is dark and has a few scars, but thats cool for a mean and strong cigar like this. The ring is simple yet clean, golden with a red and white circle with the Joya logo and a small black banner saying Antano. The cigar feels good, has a nice pig tail but the shape looks a little rough. Again, that fits with the whole “damn strong cigar” motto so I don’t mind. The aroma is strong, floral notes with pepper and manure is what I smell.


I used my Joya de Nicaragua branded cutter, a gift from Juan Martinez, to remove the cap of this skinny cigar. The cold draw is a bit tight with a nice nutmeg and mild peppery flavor. After lighting I taste cinnamon and spices, with a little sweetness. It’s almost like a gingerbread cookie. The flavor then slowly changes to more earthy with some spices. I also taste some very dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. The pepper is getting stronger. There is a mild burning sensation on the top of my tongue. Halfway the flavors remind me of rucola with a bit of a charred barbecue taste. Soon after there’s also lemon. The dark chocolate is subtle yet dominant in the aftertaste. The final third starts with an unusual flavor I never tasted before, salty French fries, just for a few puffs though, then the cigar turns to lemon again. The end of very peppery and strong.


The draw is good. The smoke is thick and full. The light ash is dense but not firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have almost a full box left.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Viking Viking Churchill

Last year I reviewed the Viking Robusto, a Dominican made cigar for a Norwegian cigar aficionado and I loved it, it scored high with a 93 final score. It was a huge step up from the cigars Hawk used to have made by Cabreras, those never scored so high and it was also the best rated E.P. Carrillo cigar for me up to that date, so a double win.


Last september I talked with Hawk and his business partner Arnt and they handed me a few more cigars to review including this 7×54 Churchill. The Viking Viking blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper from the USA, a Sumatra binder from Ecuador and aged Habano filler from three different Nicaraguan regions, Condega, Esteli and Jalapa.


The dark wrapper is rough and looks intimidating, like a real viking should and the tin cigar ring with the viking logo enhances that intimidating look, I love it. The construction feels good, the cigar is well shaped. The aroma is deep and dark, fitting with the look, like old manure on an open piece deep inside a dark and scary forest.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste some herbs and sultanas. After lighting I taste sugar with some coffee. After an inch I taste a sweet floral flavor with herbs and wood. After a third I taste wood, herbs, vanilla and chocolate. There is a mild pepper in the aftertaste. The final third starts dry, with dry wood, a little hint of vanilla and pepper. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end I taste pepper, some mild floral flavors and meaty wood.


The draw is great. The white ash is white and dense. The light and thin smoke is low in volume. The burn is good. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Alianza, Viking | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Post Embargo Robusto

In July of 2015 Alec Bradley showed a new line at the IPCPR, the Post Embargo, and Alan Rubin said that the name is based on his hope that the embargo ends soon to create a level playing field for all cigars. Rubin hates that due to the embargo the Cuban cigar is still seen as the benchmark for cigars and all others are labelled as ‘non Cubans’ which makes them sound inferior while non Cubans have won more #1 spots in Cigar Aficionado and other magazines than Cubans for over a decade now. And I agree with Alan on this, while there is no doubt that Cuba is the birthplace of the premium cigar and used to be the best by far it has been surpassed by Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic due to a lack of fertilizer and a mono culture which depleated the soil, unmotivated workers and a lack of quality control. I’m not saying all hope is lost, with the right steps Cuba could become the best cigar producer in the world again as their Vuelta Abajo soil is unique.


When I read about the release and the limited edition lancero I asked my friend George Sosa to bring a few lanceros on his European travels as I’m a big lancero lover. George didn’t but he did give me this robusto when I met him at Intertabac last september. The cigar is made by Raices Cubanas in Honduras with a Honduran wrapper, a double binder, one from Honduras and one from Nicaragua and fillers from the same countries too. The wrapper is quite dark, not maduro or obscure dark but still and it has a few darker smears over it. The construction feels good with a nice triple cap and a beautiful box pressing. The ring, well, its not my kind of art, but it was designed before the United States and Cuba opened embassies and rekindled their relationship so Alan Rubin was his time ahead by a few months when he designed the Cuban and American flag together with the Alec Bradley logo in the middle in all pastel colored decorations around, like on the TV Show Miami Vice. Although it’s not the kind of art I adore I must admit, it is something else than most cigar rings. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong.


I punched the cigar, as I like to do with Robusto sizes and thicker cigars. The cold draw is good with a dry raisin and cedar flavor, the aftertaste is white pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste a nice medium coffee flavor with a strong peppery aftertaste. After a centimeter it’s more spices, with a little lemon on the side. After a third I taste leather, cedar, nutmeg and the flavors are all dry. The flavor now changes into a bit of a corn chips flavor that I like a lot with some lemon. Soon after the lemon becomes stronger with a faint cacao. Near the end the cigar gets bitter, time to let it die in the Alec Bradley ashtray that I grabbed for the occasion.


The draw is very good and so is the smoke, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is silver gray with black smears, layered and firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, it’s not as good as the Tempus Nicaragua but still good enough to buy again.

Score: 91

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Categories: 91, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eiroa The First 20 Year Prensado

Little over 20 years ago Christian Eiroa entered the cigar business with his father Julio and the brand Camacho. They built the brand to be one of the famous Honduran cigars before they sold it to Davidoff, rumored for a whopping 40 million dollars, in 2008 with Christian being an employee and Julio retiring. But that last part changed. In 2012 Christian started his CLE brands and Tabacaleras Unidas, opening the El Aladino factory in Danli while Julio Eiroa kept growing tobacco and started producing cigars with his other son Justo under the names Aladino, Rancho Luna and Tatascan.


The tobaccos used for this Eiroa the first 20 years lines are all grown by Julio Eiroa in the Jamastran valley of Honduras and that makes this a Honduran puro. I’m smoking the 6×46 Prensado that Christian himself gave me at the Intertabac trade show. The binder is supposed to be a very special tobacco that hasn’t been used in over 50 years, and special tobacco was always a trademark for the Eiroa family, they used specific proprietary tobacco for Camacho too.


The wrapper feels like velvet and is very dark, it doesn’t have much shine and I can see a thin vein. The well printed ring is red with golden letters and some black details. It says the Eiroa name and salut, amor, pesetas that Eiroa uses for all his cigars. It looks very nice. The cigar feels well constructed and the medium strong aroma reminds me of manure.


I cut the cigar and I taste floral notes and pepper. The draw is great. After lighting I taste coffee, mild sweet and mild bitter, with a hint of pepper. After almost an inch I taste earthy flavors with pepper and a mild lemon. After a third I taste a mild sweet earthy flavor, a bit floral and vanilla like. There is pepper on the background. All of a sudden I taste salt too. The final third starts out stronger with more pepper and salt on a bit of earthy flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick and full. The fragile ash is dark. The burn is good. The medium bodied cigar is nice, balanced and medium flavored. The smoke time is ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wouldn’t mind smoking them more often.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Eiroa, El Aladino, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayimbe Robusto

Every time I am in the United States I visit cigar shops to buy single sticks of cigars I can’t get back home and that are to my interest, either because I know and like the manufacturer, I know and like the brand, I read good stuff about the cigar or it looks cool to me. Now early 2014 I spend a week in Esteli, Nicaragua and then spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. And of course in both cities I visited some shops and in one of those shops I found a cigar that I really wanted to try but because of the limited production never expected to see: A.J. Fernandez’s Mayimbe Limited Edition 2013. Only 2500 boxes of 10 were made in 4 sizes so finding them months after their release was just luck I guess.


I’m a fan of a lot of cigars that are being made by A.J., not only his own brands but also cigars he makes for Meyer & Dutch (I love the Diesel, Man O’War Skull Crusher, Ave Maria) and the Nicoya brand. So when I read about the Mayimbe I was curious to try it even thought the 56 ring is a little above my preferred thickness. Now this cigar isn’t limited just to be a limited, it’s limited because of the tobacco. The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper isn’t limited, the Nicaraguan binder from A.J. Fernandez farms isn’t limited, the Honduran filler isn’t limited but the Nicaraguan filler is, its a leaf called Privado and it’s been grown by A.J. Fernandez on a small farm and he’s been working on it for years. So no marketing “limited edition” as so many companies do, inspired by Habanos (who nowadays manufacure more limited releases than regular production between the regional editions, limited editions, reserva and anejados) but a true limited edition because they are out of tobacco. And that’s what a limited should be, limited because of a limited amount of tobacco.


The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper is darn, like a piece or dark chocolate, with a few veins and a nice triple cap. The construction feels good and the head of the cigar is beautifully rounded. The aroma is full and its like standing on the attic in a hay shed on a rainy afternoon. There are two rings on the cigar, one on the foot which is about a centimeter high, pitch black with the A.J. Fernandez logo in red letters and gold lining in a white circle with gold lining. The main ring is big with a curved top. The bottom part is black, the top part is brown and I don’t like the color brown on cigar bands unless its the exact same color as the wrapper which this isn’t. There is golden lining and swirls and in big black letters Mayimbe. A.J. Fernandez is written in smaller black letters. On the back there is the Mayimbe logo and the words “Esteli, Nicaragua” in golden letters. Now the band isn’t ugly but the brown color is, almost any other color would have been a better fit. I punched the cigar because of the thickness. The pre draw is good and I taste raw tobacco with little bit of a thinner aftertaste.


I lit the cigar with my soft flame and I taste a strong coffee flavor with a little caramel sweetness which are both quickly replaced by oak. A centimeter in I also taste some lemon in the aftertaste. After a third the cigar changes to a mix of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon with a mild peppery aftertaste, like ground white pepper. Halfway the flavor turns to cedar with nutmeg and that white pepper aftertaste. It’s all well balanced. After two thirds the oak is back. At the end I taste nuts with a little more pepper.


The smoke is huge! Thick and abundant, I love it. The ash is light colored but a bit frayed. It’s also firm. The draw is fantastic. The burn is pretty straight but I had to correct once. The cigar is medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The cigar is nub tool good. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? That is not possible. I would love to smoke this blend in a 48 ring.


Score: 91

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Categories: 91, Mayimbe, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull

The La Flor Dominicana Andalusian bull, what can I say? It was released in the summer of 2016 and hit the spot, or to make a reference to the name, it hit the bull’s eye, as it became #1 on the Cigar Aficionado top 25 of 2016. Now you want to know about the name? Why does a Dominican cigar a name that refers to the Spanish region Andalusia and a bull? Well, La Flor Dominicana owner Litto Gomez was born in Spain, so this is a link to the country of his birth. The writing on the ring is the handwriting of Pablo Picasso, who loved to paint bulls and the green in the ring is a reference to the green in the flag of Andalusia. Bull fighting is a big sport in Andalusia, hence the silhouet of the matador on the ring


The cigar, which has an odd shape, measures 6 1/2×64 and comes from an old mold that Litto Gomez found while on business in Belgium. The blend, which is a cooperation between Litto and his son Tony, consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper from corojo seed, wrapped around a binder and filler from the Dominican Republic which include Criollo ’98, Pelo d’Oro and a hybrid tobacco. Tony Gomez gave me this cigar at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund last september.


Now that I released the cigar from the cellophane I notice how thick it really is. I mean, I read it was a 64 ring gauge but it looked thinner wrapped in cellophane. The coffee colored, mild shiny, smooth wrapper looks delicious. The green ring with golden details, the black silhouette, the golden letters, its a piece of art and when you know something about the meaning of the ring, as I tried to explain in the first paragraph of the review, it’s even better. Cigar Rings did an awesome job printing this. The shape is quite unique, its slightly different than a regular pyramid, the blunt head is wrapped perfectly and the cigar feels evenly filled. The aroma is strong and reminds me of a spice cabinet in an Asian kitchen.


I cut the cigar. The raisin and herbal cold draw is great with a little pepper in my lips. After lighting I taste coffee with herbs and pepper. After a few puffs I taste herbal soil and half an inch later I also taste a mild metallic flavor. After an inch I taste coffee again, earthy and with a hint of chocolate and lime. Halfway the flavors have slowly changed to an earthy flavor with chocolate. Slowly the pepper returns, just like the lime.


The draw is great and the smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The light gray ash is dense and very firm. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full bodied and medium full flavored. The balance is spot on, and the smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Once they become available in my country I’ll grab a box.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Nica Puro Tubo Churchill

During the last Intertabac trade show, my friend George Sosa gave me the Nica Puro churchill in a tube. Now I knew the Nice Puro, I love that cigar, but the tubo was new to me. That’s not strange since hardly no cigar comes in tubes no more in The Netherlands due to anti smoke regulations. All ‘packaging units’ need to be stickered with warning labels, previously the Dutch version of the FDA didn’t consider tubes as a packaging unit until 4 years ago. And with every tube 65% covered in warning labels you couldn’t see anything on the tubo no more so most distributers decided to scrap them from their portfolio and don’t introduce new ones, like this Alec Bradley tube.


Well, the Nica Puro, it’s one of the few Alec Bradley cigars that isn’t made at Raices Cubanas in Danli, Honduras because this Nica Puro is made in Esteli, Nicaragua by the Plasencia family at their Cathedral de tobaccos as the locals call the Plasencia factory. I’ve been there, a beautiful factory with a hacienda style courtyard with fountain, a huge hall full of cigar rollers that hit their rolling desk with their chaveta when visitors come walking in as a sign of respect. Great place to visit, the Plasencia’s are great people and together with Alec Bradley they made this great cigars.


The cigar is dark, with a mild glossy, dark chocolate colored wrapper. A busy big ring with the Alec Bradley logo surrounded by different colored ovals and the NICA PURO letters and the year 1685 on the bottom. The construction feels good with a nice rounded head and a triple cap. The cigar has a strong aroma, hay, stable, charred hickory and manure come to mind. The tube is gold colored with the Alec Bradley logo in black on the top part and the Nica Puro in red on the bottom part.


I used my punch to punch a hole in the wrapper. I taste thick, sweet raisin and some pepper in the great cold draw. After lighting I taste coffee, sweetness and nutmeg. After an inch I taste some pepper too. Halfway I taste mild, sweet chocolate with dry leafs and spices. The flavors turn meaty. The final third starts with leather and a hefty pepper. I also taste some nuts.


The draw is good. The smoke is medium thick and full. The burn is straight and the light gray ash is as is firm. I would call this cigar medium plus bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? With or without a tube, I don’t care, but I like this cigar.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Perla del Mar Maduro Toro

I got this 6 1/4×54 Toro named G from a Davidoff sales rep, since Davidoff distributes J.C. Newman cigars here in The Netherlands but except for the fact that it’s a Newman brand I knew nothing about the cigar so I went to the Newman website where no information on this cigar is to be found. Then I went to the dedicated Perla del Mar website and again, no information at all. It’s time for Newman to update their web appearance, their websites but also their social media.

 


The websites of the large online retailers gave me enough information though. This cigar is made in Esteli, at the Pensa factory owned by J.C. Newman and it’s the follow up on the Perla del Mar Connecticut Shade cigar that’s been available for a while. The brand is an old Cuban brand and refers to “the pearl of the ocean” which was once Cuba’s nickname. The filler and binder are Nicaraguan wrapped in a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and the cigar has a pretty good price point of less than 7 dollar.

 


When I remove the cellophane I see a beautiful, box pressed, dark cigar that reminds me of a candy bar. Dark chocolate color, slightly dull with a beautiful ring, blue gold and white with an image of an old ship and golden letters on a blue banner. The secondary ring is in the same style and coloring. The cigar feels a little squishy and under packed but the shape is great and the triple cap is very nice. The aroma is strong and a mildly acidic hay and straw smell with some pepper.

 


I punched the cigar for a change. The cold draw is good and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy and peppery coffee. After half an inch I taste some dark chocolate with cedar with some green herbs. After a third I taste the same but now with a mild salt and a growing pepper. Halfway I taste a mild cedar with cocoa and a lot of pepper.

 


The draw is great. The light gray ash is dense, firm and has nice rings. The smoke is white, full and thick. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar lacks a little evolution. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not mind smoking them more often.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA, Perla del Mar | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A. J. Fernandez New World Puro Especial Robusto

Four years ago, in 2014, A.J. Fernandez and his father, who previously spend 17 years at tobacco mogul Plasencia, created the New World line. A few new additions came with a Connecticut shade version, a few single store vitolas, and last year Abdel and his father Ismael created the New World Puro Especial, a Nicaraguan puro with tobacco’s from several tobacco fields owned and cultivated by Fernandez in and around Esteli.


All tobacco is aged between three to five years before being used and picked specifically for this blend. In an interview Fernandez told a little about the blend, saying he picked tobacco from the San Diego fields for the minerals, from the La Soledad farm for the flavor, from the La Providencia farm for the aroma and he picked a Criollo 98 wrapper from the San Jose farm. A.J. gave me this cigar personally when I met him again at the Intertabac trade show last september.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I feel a leathery, which, wrapper. The color is quite dark, like 75% chocolate with a mild oily shine. I also see some veins but that fits with the dark color and make the cigar look intimidating in a good way. The ring is detailed, a white ring with red and gold outlines, a new world painting and a secondary ring in red and gold with the AJ Fernandez name. The cigar has a medium aroma of charred wood and manure. The head of the cigar is well rounded and the cigar feels evenly packed.


I decided to break out the old punch. The cold draw is good, I taste mild spicy tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee, quite spicy. After a quarter of an inch I taste chocolate milk after taking a zip of water. Without drinking water it’s more coffee with cocoa powder, quite dry. After an inch I taste a floral flavor with a tiny bit of chocolate. After a third the cigar has a unique flavor of vegetables and flowers. Halfway the flavor changes to floral leather with a little bit of black pepper. The pepper is slowly getting stronger with a lot of leather and still some of the floral flavor.


The draw is great and the light gray ash is dense and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like a few more.

Score: 91

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Categories: 91, New World, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | 3 Comments

Liga Privada #9 Belicoso

I remember getting my first Liga Privada, that was back in 2009 on a road trip along the east coast. We had a herf at every stop and one of the guys in Fayetteville, NC, handed me a Liga Privada and said it was one of his favorite cigars. I saw ‘Drew Estate’ on the ring and said NO! NO! but he persuaded me, said it wasn’t infused and a great stick. I smoked it and loved it, a lot. Although it seems that the flavor and quality changed a little over the years due to different years of crops.


There are only a few pairs of rollers that are allowed to roll these cigars and only in a limited quantity per day. If you have been to the Drew Estate factory you probably have seen them sitting in a room apart from the main factory floor. That room is only used to roll the Liga Privada #9 and T52. The #9 is made out of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, a Brazilian binder and Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The Belicoso is 6×52 sized.


The wrapper looks amazing, dark, oily, leathery, its just a pleasant cigar to look at. The ring is simple yet tasteful, on one side there is the lion shaped Liga logo in silver on a black background while the rest of the ring is off white with gray lettering saying Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and then in a curly, almost hand written, font in black letters Liga Privada #9. The cigar feels well constructed and the shape is beautiful with a little flat head on the belicoso shape. The aroma is unique, its like a fence that has been tarred a week ago, you still smell a bit of the tar but it’s not overpowering anymore.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is great, spicy and peppery. The first flavors after lighting are coffee and cocoa. After half an inch the cigar is spicy and meaty. The flsvors are dark with a little red pepper. After a third I taste meaty wood with some sweetness, spices and pepper. The cigar taste different than how I remember Liga Privada. A title chocolate shows up too. Halfway the cigar tastes like cedar, herbs and peppery, just like I remember. The final third is cedar, herbs, pepper and carrot. The pepper fases away.


The draw is great and the smoke, I don’t know what Drew Estate is doing to their cigars but they are all smoke bombs, thick, full and white. The dense and firm ash is white as can be. The burn is pretty straight. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I have some stashed away

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Liga Privada, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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