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Kafie 1901 Don Fernando Toro Bello

Kafie 1901 Don Fernando Toro Bello. Made at Tabacalera Kafie y Cia, one of the few remaining cigar factories in Honduras. Where there once were many factories in the Latin American country, only a few remains. Currently, there are less than 15 different factories still producing cigars in Honduras. Just to compare that, in and around Esteli there are over 100 factories large and small. Dr. Gaby Kafie left his full-time job as a physician in Florida to become a cigar manufacturer in his native Honduras. He and his team try to continue the cigar legacy of Honduras by preserving the cigar-making art.


The cigars are available in different sizes, but the one reviewed is the 6×54 Toro Bello. Other sizes available are a 5×50 Robusto and a 6½x52 Belicoso. There are also two 60 ring cigars, one 5 inches, and the other 6 inches in length. The Nicaraguan Cuban Seed wrapper is aged for 5 to 6 years before being used. The Honduran binder and the Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers are aged 3 to 4 years. Tabacalera Kafie is aging the tobacco at their factory warehouse.

The cigar looks good. A dark, smooth yet dry looking wrapper. But the triple cap looks a bit off, it’s like the torcedor used a different leaf for the second of the three caps, as it’s lighter than the rest. The glossy black and gold label is fine, print quality is good. Due to the size and color, the cigar looks impressive. While gently squeezing the cigar, not plugs or soft spots are detected. The aroma is strong, hay, stable, barnyard, those kinds of aromas.


The cold draw is great, with some sweet tobacco in the flavor. Once lit, the cigar delivers sweet coffee. The cigar then picks up in flavor and strength. Pepper, coffee, sweetness, and leather. The coffee is the strongest flavor, supported by the other mentioned flavors and citrus acidity. The flavors intensify, some mushroom and complex bitterness of dark chocolate are added. After a third, there is more wood, leather, and soil. The sweetness and citrus disappeared, but the coffee and pepper are still strong. Halfway the flavors are wood, leather, soil, and pepper with grass. The coffee makes a comeback, with dried leather and herbs. The final third starts with wood, leather and an unpleasant bitterness. The bitterness tones down, and makes place for spices and pepper. Coffee and some cocoa show up too.


The draw is great. The cigar produces a lot of smoke, thick and white. The burn had to be corrected once or twice. This cigar is flavorful, it has character and balance. The light-colored ash is semi-firm. This is a well balanced, rounded cigar with plenty of character. It’s full-bodied, full-flavored. The smoke time is three hours and twenty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes!

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Categories: 91, Honduran cigars, Kafie, Tabacalera Kafie y Cia | Leave a comment

Gurkha Treinta Toro

Gurkha Treinta Toro. This cigar was released late 2019 to commemorate the 30th year since Kaizad Hansotia bought the Gurkha brand for $300 while on vacation. He noticed a man rolling cigars under the Gurkha name and selling them. He bought a few, loved them and offered to buy the brand. For just 300 US dollars he got the name and the rest is history. From that, he built a brand that is loved and hated in equal parts. Some swear by Gurkha, others hate the brand with a passion. But everybody has an opinion about Gurkha cigars, there is no in-between.

For the Gurkha Treinta, Hansotia worked with Aganorsa Leaf and the cigars are rolled at Aganorsa’s TABSA factory. That factory produces a lot of great private labels and is highly respected in the cigar community. The cigar utilizes an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. The fillers and the binder are from Nicaragua. The binder is an Aganorsa Corojo 99. The fillers come from Esteli and Jalapa and include Criollo 98 and Corojo 99. The Toro is 6×54 in size.

The cigar looks good. The Habano Rosado wrapper doesn’t look oily but has a nice deep color with a reddish glow to it. There are a few thin veins. The cigar feels well packed. The white and gold ring features the Gurkha logo on the ring but is quite modest for a Gurkha cigar. The aroma is deep, manure and dark wood. It’s medium-strong in smell.

The cold draw is on the loose side. The cigar has a dry and slightly spicy tobacco flavor. From the start, the cigar has grass, coffee, leather, wood, and pepper. But all nicely balanced, although there is a little harshness on the back of the throat. But not unpleasant though. There is some nutmeg too. The cigar then turns smooth with lots of spices and a little wood and leather. Slowly some cocoa flavor shows up on the background as well. The flavors are smooth, it’s easy to retrohale this cigar. The second third starts with that beautiful mix of spices, some sweetness, hay, leather, and soil. The mouthfeel is creamy. Slowly there’s a toasted flavor that starts to emerge underneath the spices. The toast is becoming stronger, with more wood and still those nice, balanced mix of spices, pepper, and sweetness. In the final third, the flavors intensify. Still leather, wood, spices, and pepper but stronger. The finale is a little darker in flavor, more soil, wood and leather, fewer spices.

The draw is a little loose, but still within margins. The ash is white, dense and firm. It’s a stack of dimes. The smoke is good in volume and thickness. The burn is razor-sharp. This cigar is well balanced, smooth, and very pleasant. The cigar is medium-bodied, yet full-flavored. The smoke time is two hours and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Categories: 91, Gurkha, Nicaraguan cigars, TABSA | Tags: , , , , ,

300 Hands Maduro Corona Gorda

300 Hands Maduro Corona Gorda. It always surprised us that nobody had used that name before. Everybody in the industry knows that it takes approximately 300 pairs of hands from the seed to the finished cigar in the consumer’s hand. Cigar manufacturers emphasize that often, to show consumers what it takes to create a cigar. And to politicians to show how many families are at stake with their legislative decisions. But nobody used that name for a cigar until Southern Draw did. For two blends, a 300 Mano Habano and a 300 Hands Maduro blend.


In 2018, Southern Draw released this 300 Hands Maduro line. In five sizes, but we managed to get our hands on a Corona Gorda, size 5½x46. Now, truth is, we don’t know where we got his from or who gave it to us. All we know is that the cigars are made in Nicaragua. At Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez. And that the cigar is made with a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper. The binder comes from Indonesia. The fillers are from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

The cigar looks rustic. A very dark wrapper with tooth. Leather looking, with some lighter colored veins. With a wet finger, we wiped the wrapper to see if it stained. If that was the case, the wrapper would be artificially colored, but no stains at all. The construction feels good. The simple band is nice. White with blue text. 300 Hands, but the nice detail is the serrated top and bottom. The barnyard aroma is strong. This cigar would stand out in a humidor, and we would pick one up to try.


The cold draw is good. And has a surprising flavor of mint and chocolate. Almost like the after eight chocolates. Once lit, there is coffee and pepper. But smooth and mild. There is leather, there is wood too with some citrus fruit. Slowly some complex bitterness of dark chocolate shows up. But it does hurt the back of the throat a little. The cigar then turns to warm spices with pepper and leather. The mouthfeel is thick, buttery. Some fruity acidity comes in play as well, like oranges. After a third, the cigar is all about coffee and that citrus. With pepper in the aftertaste. There is a little harshness in the back of the throat though. Halfway the cigar has a strong nutty flavor, with leather and pepper. In the final third, the pepper grows in strength. It also has wood, coffee, and citrus.


The draw is fantastic. And the ash is white, firm and dense. The burn is good. And the smoke, thick, white and plentiful. The cigar is balanced, smooth. It has character, but not a lot. And there’s a little harshness. The cigar is medium-full in body, medium in flavor. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I enjoyed it.

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Southern Draw, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

Asylum 13 Medulla

Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata, a line introduced at the IPCPR 2017 but only introduced to the international markets in 2019. An interesting concept, where two cigars with an identical blend and size are sold but in a different shape. The Medulla is a round cigar. The Oblongata is box-pressed. And the Medulla Oblongata is the part of the brain that controls involuntary reactions. Breathing, coughing, sneezing, hiccups etcetera. And now the brain has to decide which of the two is the best. The round Medulla or the box-pressed Oblongata.


The blend is identical to the Asylum 13 Corojo. It’s an all Honduran cigar with a Corojo wrapper. The only difference is the priming of the tobacco. The Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata utilizes tobacco from higher priming. By using leaves from the higher of the plant, the flavor profile is different than the original Asylum 13 Corojo. The cigars are rolled in the El Aladino factory in Danli. The factory is owned by Christian Eiroa. Asylum Cigars is a partnership between Eiroa and Tom Lazuka.


The cigar is almost completely covered in paper. The brown Asylum 13 ring with the logo and the skull and then a piece of wax paper wrapped around the cigar. The paper is printed with the name of the cigar, Medulla. This packaging would certainly pique our interest in a humidor full of cigars. Once removed, it’s clear that this is high priming, sun-grown Corojo. Dark and rustic looking because of some clear veins. The cigar is well-shaped and feels well constructed. There is a medium-strong aroma of dried wood and stable aromas.


The cold draw is great. The flavors in the cold draw are strong, raw tobacco. After lighting there is a dusty, muted yet salty flavor. There are woody and a leathery flavor as well but muted. Something is holding them back. Some cinnamon sweetness is noticeable in the retrohale. And there is a hint of pepper on the tip of the tongue. Slowly the flavors start to open up. The spice and pepper flavors become more pronounced. There is also some sweetness and more wood. The flavors gain some strength but remain smooth. Cedar, spices, and leather are the flavors on the palate. In the final third, the cigar gets more sweetness but the other flavors gain strength too. The last part of the cigar has salt, black licorice, wood, pepper, and soil. And all with a nice sweetness.


The draw is good. Just as the amount and thickness of the smoke. The burn started out wonky but after one little touch-up, it was fine. And the ash is dense, firm and white. The cigar is smooth, easy-going. There is balance, and it has nuanced flavors. It is a medium-bodied and medium-flavored cigar. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, once in a while
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Categories: 91, Asylum, El Aladino, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat

Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat. Although this is a special one and not released because of the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. This cigar was released in 2016. And it is made for the lounge that Drew Estate opened that year at the BB&T Center in Sunrise Florida. The BB&T Center is the home base of the Florida Panthers, an NHL team. And this Liga Privada Year of the Rat is a commemorative cigar for the 1996 Championship. In 1996, the Florida Panthers won the Stanley Cup, the most prestigious prize in ice hockey. And according to the legend, one of the players killed a rat with his stick in the dressing room before the first match of the season. And then scored two goals. The rat became a good luck talisman for the season, and 1996 was ‘the year of the rat’ for the Florida Panthers.


The 5½x46 Grand Corona was given to us a few years ago by Jessi Flores. Back then, Flores was still part of the Drew Estate family, before venturing out on his own. At one of the Intertabac Trade Shows, Flores shared a few Liga Privada Unico cigars with us. This Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat is made at the famous Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. For the filler, tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras are used. The binder comes from Brazil. The wrapper is the famous Connecticut Broadleaf that Drew Estate loves to use. The cigars were sold for $14 per piece and were packed in boxes of 10.


The cellophane was starting to turn yellow by the oil in the wrapper. The cigar looks great, dark and oily. The wrapper looks thick, yet the veins are thin. The cap looks odd, it has a flag tail but the cap is prolonged and looks like a hat on top of the cigar. The regular Liga Privada ring is used, but as always with the Unico series, the text has been altered. This says Year of the Rat. The construction feels flawless. The aroma is strong, oak and roasted coffee beans.


The cold draw is perfect with quite some pepper in the flavor profile. A little salt as well. Once lit there is coffee with a slightly salty flavor. Then there is dark chocolate, the 80% pure type accompanied by some leather and cedar. There is some sweetness, nuttiness, and a mild buttery mouthfeel. After a while, a mild black pepper shows up as well, with some grassy flavors. The flavors then evolve to black coffee, leather, soil with a mild peppery aftertaste. The nut flavor is making a comeback, with the pepper and some sweetness. In the last third, the flavors are pretty much the same. Leather, coffee, wood, dark chocolate, and pepper.


The draw is flawless. The smoke is a classic Drew Estate smoke. Thick, full, white and there is plenty of it. The ash is white and nice. The burn is pretty straight. Because the cigar has aged, the flavors are well rounded while still packing strength. Both in flavor and strength. The smoke time is two hours and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I would

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

Don Chico Ecuador Toro

Don Chico Ecuador Toro. Or Don Chico Habano Toro as the cigar is called on the American market. But due to copyright legislation, non-Cuban cigar companies are not allowed to use Habano in their name outside the USA. Where most brands change Habano in Sun Grown, Barreda chose to replace it with Ecuador for their Don Chico line. The Don Chico line is a tribute to the 1st generation Barreda in the tobacco industry, Francisco Barreda. And the 3rd generation named this line in his honor. The line is also available in a Maduro version.


Ecuador on the secondary ring comes from the country where the Habano wrapper is grown, Ecuador. The binder comes from the South East Asian country of Indonesia. The filler comes from Nicaragua. The Barreda factory is located in Esteli and was founded in 2013. This 6×52 Toro is one of the three sizes available. The others are a 5×50 Robusto and a 6×60 Chairman. Stephanie Huete, sales & marketing manager for Barreda cigars, gave us a sample at the Intertabac trade show.

The cigar looks good. A Colorado to Colorado Maduro colored wrapper, smooth and oily. With a cloth foot ring, and two rings. The top ring is beige with brown and shows a drawing of Don Chico. The secondary ring just says Ecuador. The ring colors match the foot ring, and even though they look simple, it actually works for this cigar. That’s because the colors are well chosen. The shape of the cigar is flawless. And the aroma is strong. Barnyard with a strong cocoa powder smell. The cigar feels well constructed.


The cold draw is a bit tight. It’s sweet, cane sugar and sultanas. After lighting, the cigar gives coffee, leather, hay, and a pinch of salt. The mouthfeel is thick, like butter. The cigar gets more sweetness, more leather. The total lack of pepper is surprising in the first inch, but then it shows up, smooth yet pronounced. The cigar turns to cedar with sweetness. To balance it out, there’s a nice citrus acidity. The cigar gets more wood and leather. In the final third, the cigar gets peppery.


The draw is a bit tight, it feels like the smoke is a bit greasy. The burn is nice and straight tough. And the ash is very light, almost white. The smoke is decent, in thickness and volume. The cigar is medium-full bodied, medium-full flavored. The smoke time is three hours and twenty minutes.

Would I buy these cigars again? Occasionally

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Categories: 91, Don Chico, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Davidoff Year of the Rat

Davidoff Year of the Rat. Of all those cigars using the Chinese Zodiac calendar, Davidoff is the original one. It is the Swiss brand that decided to release a limited edition for each of the Chinese zodiac years. And due to the success, other companies followed. Even the king of limited and region editions, Habanos, followed suit. But the most anticipated release every year is the Davidoff year of cigar.


For the year of the rat, the Davidoff blenders went with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Dark, oily and beautiful. They wrapped that around a Semilla B binder from Nicaragua. For the fillers, the blenders selected viso tobacco from Esteli and Condega in Nicaragua. And blended that with viso and second from the Dominican republic into a 6×52 sized toro.

The cigar looks fantastic. The dark, Maduro colored, Habano wrapper is mouth-watering. Beautifully colored, oily with a few veins. The shape is perfect, just like the cap. And the dark, oily wrapper is a beautiful backdrop for the glossy white, and classic, Davidoff ring. The secondary ring is red with gold and tells you it’s the cigar for the year of the rat. The barnyard aroma is quite strong. The cigar feels well constructed.


The cold draw is great, with flavors of pepper, the bitterness of dark chocolate, raw tobacco and leather. Immediately after lighting, the bitterness of dark chocolate is there. Complexed bitterness. With mushrooms, leather, and pepper. The mouthfeel is dry. The nice bitterness of the dark chocolate remains, but now with sweetness, ginger and mushrooms. The aftertaste is a nice mellow pepper. The dark chocolate becomes even more pronounced, with pepper on the background. Other flavors are leather, mushrooms, hay, and pepper. Later on, the cigar has oak, pepper, ginger, and leather. The second third starts with coffee, hazelnuts, pepper, and a grassy flavor. There is also oak and leather in the second third. The final third has oak, coffee, pepper. The mouthfeel is a little creamy. The cigar then turns to leather, oak, and pepper.


The draw is great. The ash is light gray and looks like a stack of dimes. The smoke is good, not super thick but still thick enough. And the volume is nice too. The cigar is balanced but has character. This is a full-bodied, full-flavored cigar. The smoke time is three hours. The burn is good as well.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s expensive, but I enjoyed it

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Categories: 91, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Royal Danish Cigars Weihnachten

Royal Danish Cigars Weihnachten. For those that don’t speak German, Weihnachten is Christmas in the German language. So this is the Christmas cigar from Royal Danish. Jan Vistisen, the owner and founder of the Danish cigar brand, trademarked ‘Christmas’ for cigars and this is the first time he uses the trademark for a commercial release. He showed the cigars at the Intertabac trade show last September and gave me a sampler to smoke during the holidays.

The Christmas cigar is a play on the Royal Danish Sangre Azul 2.0. And that cigar is a mediumfiller or a Cuban sandwich as some call it. It’s made with the clippings of the expensive Royal Danish Regal Blend West Indies line. But the clippings aren’t chopped up to smaller pieces, so it’s not a shortfiller. As far as our information goes, the cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with a dark Habano wrapper.

 

The wrapper is dark, almost Oscuro. The box-pressed torpedo measures 6×50 but the head is a little uneven. The main ring is the black Royal Danish ring with the white letters, golden details and the Danish flag in the center. The secondary ring is the Cuban regional edition ring with the text ‘Weihnachten leckerbissen’ which translates to Christmas treats. The cigar feels good and looks good. The cigar has a medium-strong aroma of hay.

 

The cold draw is good. A slightly bitter flavor of dark chocolate and raw tobacco comes from the cold draw. That dark chocolate remains after lighting, but now with coffee and soil. The flavors are a bit muted. Dark chocolate, leather, pepper, and earthiness. Slowly a nutty flavor shows up too, with some sweetness. But then after a centimeter and a half, the cigar suddenly awakes. The flavors are no longer muted but crisp. The smoke gets thicker as well. The pepper grows and there is even a hint of vanilla. The chocolate flavors taste like old fashioned brownies, thick and delicious. In the final third, the pepper grows stronger. The cigar gets more wood now, with earthiness and pepper.

The draw is fine. The ash is light gray but not very firm. The smoke is thick and full. The burn had to be corrected once. This cigar is full-bodied and full-flavored. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? To be honest, for €825 I would pick a premium Longfiller

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Royal Danish | Tags: , , , , ,

Balmoral Añejo Oscuro Lancero FT

Balmoral Añejo Oscuro Lancero FT. This is the 2019 limited edition for the Balmoral Añejo series. Balmoral launched the Ańejo a few years ago with an 18-year-old wrapper. The cigar was an instant hit and put the brand back in the spotlights. So when the Dutch cigar manufacturer ran out of the wrapper, they tweaked the blend and created the Balmoral Ańejo XO series. Slowly that series grew, with the addition of a Connecticut Shade version, an Oscuro version and a Nicaraguan version. Each year, the brand sees a limited edition. The Balmoral Añejo XO Lancero was a huge hit, so a few months ago, Balmoral released the 2019 limited edition. That’s a lancero for the Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro blend.


The cigar measures 7×40. And it has a flag tail, that’s what the FT in the name stands for. The filler comes from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Brazil. That last one is part of the Balmoral signature. All Balmoral Añejo XO cigars have some Brazilian tobacco in the blend. The binder comes from the Dominican Republic as well. That’s where the Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company factory is located. The hometown of the factory is in San Pedro de Macoris. Royal Agio honored the town by creating several blends with the San Pedro de Macoris name. The wrapper for this Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro comes from the San Andres region in Mexico.

The dark wrapper has a few veins, but nothing too thick or ugly. The dark color is quite even. The rings are beautifully designed and it’s clear why the logo and design have won several design prizes. The ring protecting the foot is glossy black with a beautiful gold print. The regular ring is gray, with black, white and golden details. The flag tail is a nice touch to the cigar. The construction feels good. There is a mild barnyard aroma, with a little ammonia.


The cold draw is great. The flavors are a slightly spicy raw tobacco flavor. A warm flavor. Once lit, it’s a strong coffee flavor with spices and pepper. The flavors then turn to a milder coffee and more gingerbread spices. There’s also a vegetal flavor and creamy chocolate sweetness, although that last one is very mild. Slowly some leaves, leather and more sweetness join the palate. And then, after an inch, there is a nice sweet smokey barbecue flavor. The smokey wood flavor, with the sweetness, is the main flavor for the second third. But there is mild milk chocolate on the background as well. In the last third, the cigar gets less smokey and releases more spices. Green herbs and warm spices on toast with wood. Add a little pepper and that’s the flavor palate of the cigar in the final third.


The draw is great. But the light gray ash with dark smears is coarse and not very dense nor firm. The smoke is plentiful but could have been a bit thicker. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is smooth, balanced and smokes perfectly. It’s a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. But it smokes quite fast, even though lanceros are supposed to be smoked slowly. The smoke time is one hour and forty-five minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to have a box or two

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Categories: 91, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Black Label Trading Company Royalty Robusto

Black Label Trading Company Royalty Robusto. A relatively new, edgy brand, that saw the light in 2013. James and Angela were tour operators in Costa Rica. But they took their clients to Nicaragua as well and where do you take visitors when you’re in Nicaragua? To tobacco plantations and cigar factories of course. James started to blend cigars and sell them. The feedback was so overwhelming that the couple decided to start a brand. To keep control of everything, they even started a factory of their own.


The Royalty is a core line for Black Label Trading Company and has been there from the start in 2013. The cigar is made with Nicaraguan fillers. The binder comes from Honduras and the wrapper is Ecuadorian. But not Connecticut Shade of Sumatra, Ecuadorian tobaccos that are used a lot, but Ecuadorian Corojo. The cigar is only available in three sizes, we reviewed the 5×54 Robusto.


The cigar is beautiful. Smooth, leathery with a few flats veins. Quite dark. The ring is very dark with a skull, very scary, macabre. The foot ring says Royalty in a font that fits with the skull. The cigar feels a little spongy but evenly spongy. The medium-strong aroma is that of wood, chopped wood.


The cold draw is great. The flavor is dry, spicy and slightly bitter raw tobacco. Once lit, there is coffee, there is some harshness from green herbs and spices. There is some pepper. Slowly wood and pepper show up too. The cigar has a little edge to it. Then honey sweetness comes into play, with more pepper. The rough edge in the flavor is gone. The second third starts with wood, pepper, and some honey. The wood, leather, and pepper are the main attraction. Near the end, the cigar becomes salty.


The ash is like a stack of dimes. Light gray, with beautiful layers. The burn is quite straight and pretty. The smoke is great. Thick and white. The cigar has plenty of character. This is a medium-full bodied cigar, medium-full flavored as well. With a smoke time of an hour and forty-five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Categories: 91, Black Label Trading Company, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

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