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Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso

As I wrote in my review of the Undercrown Sungrown Flying Pig, this cigar was given to me by the man himself, Willy Herrera, at the intertabac trade show last year. I met Willy years ago, when he just started working for Drew Estate and have met him several times since mostly at the factory of his inlaws and the place where he got his claim to fame: El Titan de Bronze, a must see if you’re ever in Miami.


I have been to the Drew Estate HQ in Miami a few times, I have been to the factory in Esteli a few times and I can only say that I have mad respect for the company that Jonathan Drew built, starting from a push cart at the World Trade Center to one of the biggest and most modern factories in the world, from just cigar sales to being a major manufacturer and then rebranding yourself from a infused cigar manufacturer to a well respected and loved brand by serious cigar smokers, all the while being different then others with incorporating art, the style, the culture and of course the immense social media coverage. Kudos.


As the cigar, its a 6×52 Belicoso. The Ecuadorian Sumatra sun grown wrapper has a little tooth and a little oil. Maybe because the wrapper is bigger than on the Flying Pig, but it looks a little rougher and less smooth. The ring is the same, the classic Undercrown logo in gold on a red background and the foot ring is in the same color scheme. The construction feels good with a nice round head on the belicoso. The aroma is barnyard with manure, medium to full in strength.


Due to the shape cutting the cigar is my only option. The cold draw is great, with quite some pepper on my lips. After lighting I taste coffee. I also taste a little citrus and wood. After a quarter of an inch I taste more cinnamon and lemon, the coffee is gone. Some pepper shows up too. After a third it’s wood, pepper and some lime. Halfway I taste a mild peanut with lime and pepper. The final third is wood with pepper and a mild floral flavor.


The draw is great and the smoke is typical Drew Estate, thick, white and plentiful. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The burn is straight. The cigar starts medium bodied but turns full bodied, full flavored along the way. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Hell yeah

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , ,

Mbombay Vintage Reserve Salomon

One of my Dutch friends is a big fan of Mbombay and he gave me a cigar that I smoked for a yet to be published review just a few weeks ago. And I liked it, I can’t remember the final score but I knew I liked it. And then, while in Singapore two weeks ago, my friend Nuzli, a great designer who’s doing some photoshopping for Mbombay gave me a brand new cigar, the Mbombay Vintage Reserve, both in a Salomon and in a Lancero vitola. I’m smoking the Salomon now.


I reached out to the Mbombay instagram account for some background information, we exchanged two or three messages but I haven’t gotten any information yet. I blame that on the IPCPR which is this weekend so brand owner Mel Shaw is probably crazy busy at the moment. Hopefully I get some information soon. Maybe it’s the same blend as the limited edition Vintage Reseve 1973 that got released at IPCPR 2016, but I simply do not know.


The cigar has a light brown wrapper with quite some thin veins, it looks oily and I have my suspicion that it’s a Connecticut Shade wrapper even though it’s not as pale as most Connecticut Shade cigars. I love the shape of a good Salomon and the cigar feels well packed but with the right amount of sponginess. The ring however, I think a better job could have been done. Whenever you walk into a humidor, all the other Mbombay cigars stand out because of the artwork while this one, well, let me put it that way, if I was browsing a humidor I would, at first glance, think that it’s a Davidoff cigar. White oval ring with dots and a thin secondary ring is kind of their trademark. At second glance you see a peacock, very detailed and nice but a far cry from the colourful and unique artwork from the other Mbombay cigars. The cigar has a strong aroma, straw and hay come to mind with a little pepper.


The cold draw is fine with a woody aroma. After lighting I taste that classic Connecticut Shade flavor, something I don’t like, but the flavor is mild and some sweetness actually make it enjoyable. After a centimeter I taste cedar, sweetness and some lemon, with that Connecticut Shade touch. After a third I taste a creamy, buttery cedar with a hint of vanilla and that Connecticut Shade flavor. Halfway I taste the cedar and Connecticut Shade flavor with a mild chocolate and a growing cayenne pepper. In the final third the cedar is still creamy with a little bit of vanilla and the cayenne but the Connecticut Shade mustiness as I call it is getting the overhand. Near the end the cigar gets spicy and peppery, suddenly it gains strength too.


The draw is fine. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, but beautifully white. The smoke gets thicker and I see more of it once the burn reaches the thicker part of the cigar. The ash is almost silver and black, with thin rings. The burn is straight as an arrow. I would say this is a medium strong cigar, medium flavored and well balanced. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Depending on the price, I might. This is one of the few Connecticut Shade cigars out there that I like.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Costa Rican cigars, Mbombay, Tabaccos de Costa Rica | Tags: , , , , ,

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro

Another cigar from the 5 count Toro sampler is the acclaimed Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, a blend that saw the light in 2009 as a single store cigar without a name but when the feedback was so positive Jaime Garcia decided to turn it into a regular production cigar with his own name to it. And it’s been a success since, it made Jaime step out of the shadow of his father and turned him into one of the three faces of the family run business.


The cigar is made with a broadleaf wrapper that surrounds a Nicaraguan Pelo d Oro binder and Nicaraguan fillers, both from the own Garcia owned tobacco fields and tobacco bought from the Oliva Tobacco Company, not to be mistaken with the Oliva Cigar Family, which is a completely different company and family that only share the same name and happen to be in tobacco too.


The wrapper is different shades of dark, like it has darker smears but I can also see a sparkle from the minerals in de leaf. There is one distinct vein on the bottom half of the cigar. The ring is broken with with silver and blue lettering, simple yet tasteful. The cigar does’t have any soft spots and the head looks good with a perfect triple cap. The cigar has a stable aroma, a smell that I remember from my youth, growing up in a small town and a few farms close by that I sometimes visited as a kid. The aroma is quite strong.


I decided to cut the cigar instead of punching it. The cold draw is easy yet spicy on the lips. After lighting I taste coffee with a little bitterness of dark chocolate. After an inch I taste a mild coffee, spices and dark chocolate. Halfway I taste wood with a icing sugar sweetness and a white pepper in the aftertaste. In the final third the cigar gains some strength and a lot of pepper.


The draw is a little loose but maybe because of that the smoke is extra thick and there is a huge amount of it. The light colored ash is medium firm, the burn is straight. This cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The cigar is well balanced and smooth. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, box worthy cigar.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Jaime Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Wilson Adams Mr. Wilson Lancero

Back in 2015 I visited Nicaragua for the second time. This time for the Cigaragua book from Marcel Langedijk & Jesaka Hizkia, they made the book but I arranged the whole trip, set up all the appointments, took care of transportation etcetera but when they left after a week I stayed a little longer to hang out with some of the cigar guys, learn more about tobacco and learn a little Spanish too.


On my last day in Esteli Juan Martinez from Joya de Nicaragua drove me to Managua where I stayed in a hotel for 2 days before my flight home. And in that hotel I ran into Skip Martin, whom I met a year earlier. Skip invited me to come over to the patio of his room for a few cigars and one of his friends, Brandon Wilson from Wilson Adams Cigars who gave me this Wilson Adams White Label lancero


This 7×40 Lancero looks good with a milk chocolate colored Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and predominantly Nicaraguan filler. The ring is clean and simple, white with a golden pattern of lines, Wilson written in gold, the a W in gold and red and Adams in gold on a red square. Add a little blue and yellow and it would have been a Mondriaan painting, I like it. The construction feels good, no soft spots, the shape looks good, a well made cigar. The aroma is mild, I smell some dry spur wood and hay.


I cut cigar, the cold draw is great and mild sweet. After lighting I taste a smooth and sweet coffee. I also taste a hint of cinnamon. Slowly I taste more pepper and after a third the pepper is dominant with a bit of cocoa on the background. Halfway I taste more of a vegetable flavor with a mellowed our pepper and some salt. The pepper changes of flavor, the salt fluctuates in strength. The final third it’s salty with oak, herbs and pepper. The strength picks up, just like the spice and pepper.


The draw is perfect. The smoke is full, white and thick. The ash is light gray and it makes a curve to the left. The burn is pretty straight. As expected this cigar offers plenty of dynamics and subtle flavor changes. It’s a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to score a few.

Score: 91

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua, Wilson Adams | Tags: , , , ,

Bucanero Z Toro & Churchill

A few years ago Robert Spoden from Bucanero Cigars send me a sampler of cigars and a few of them I reviewed for the blog, but two of them got lost on the bottom shelve of the humidor. I found them while organizing my humidor last year and have been meaning to review the remaining cigars but there is so much to review. Today I was browsing my inventory on my stogierate account and saw the name so I decided to pick the Bucanero Z for a series review.

This Nicaraguan blend is made with Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers and a Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador. I remember enjoying the Canon Cubano and the Treasures of Costa Rica quite a lot, so my expectations for this Bucanero Z are high, and I always root for the underdogs, the small companies that do things their own way like Robert Spoden does with his family owned, veteran run, company that sells their cigars on his own website and doesn’t have sales representatives trying to push the cigars into every humidor in the country.

Bucanero Z Toro


The 6×50 box pressed cigar looks great, a nice milky chocolate wrapper with a few veins and a mild shine from the natural oils. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. The ring is of high quality paper and printing, pitch black with a golden Z and golden outlines and then white letters with a red outline saying Bucanero. The ring is clean, clear and beautiful. The aroma is medium strong after all these years and have a barnyard smell.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a little raisin, dry tobacco and some white pepper. After lighting I taste coffee and earthy flavors with a nice amount of sweetness. After a quarter of an inch I still taste the earthy and coffee flavors but now with a marzipan like sweetness, soft and creamy, and a peppery aftertaste. After an inch the pepper grows stronger, the marzipan and the coffee have disappeared and the earthy flavor has a little lemon in it. Halfway I get a hint of chocolate too, with the lemony soil and the strong black pepper. There is a mild nuttiness too, peanuts to be more precise and the flavor is getting stronger. Near the end the soil and pepper are flavors I taste with a little salt on the background, the chocolate and peanuts disappeared.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is full, both in volume and thickness, with a beautiful white color. The ash is light gray, past dense and part beautifully layered. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes and I recommend everyone to check out this brand.


Score: 92
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Bucanero Z Churchill


The 7×50 Churchill looks thinner due to the box pressed shape and has a nice  light brown wrapper with only a few thin veins. The touch is velvet like. The construction feels good, the cap is placed nicely, all in all this is a good looking cigar with a very pretty ring as described above. The cigar has a mild woody aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is fine. I just taste a bit of a salty tobacco flavor. After lighting I taste a coffee, dirt, lemon and herb flavor. After half an inch I taste herbs, licorice, lemon and sawdust. After a third I taste a nice red pepper. Halfway i taste wood and herbs with a little pepper. The final third starts peppery and with five spice, a little sweetness and lemon. The pepper grows in strength with cinnamon and a bit of a carrot flavor that I happen to like.


The draw is fantastic. The light gray colored ash is layered and dense. The smoke is nice and thick. I would call this cigar medium plus bodied and full flavored. There is enough evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer the Toro.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, 92, Bucanero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro Toro

Last month I wrote a review on the Quesada Reserva Privada Toro, made with a vintage Dominican Criollo binder. A year after the original release in 2015 the Quesada family released another blend using that same vintage leaf and the same Reserva Privada name, the Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.


Now I am a fan of Connecticut broadleaf, one of my favorite cigars is the La Casita Criolla from Pete Johnson, a cigar completely made with Connecticut broadleaf and I like the La Duena by My Father a lot too so I have high expectations from this cigar. I mean, vintage binder, one of my favorite wrappers and all from a great company. I got this cigar at the last intertabac trade show in a sampler from Raquel Quesada.


The ring is the same as the regular Reserva Privada, black, stylish and gorgeous. The wrapper is very oily, dark and smooth. Halfwheel wrote that the cigar won’t win any beauty contests but this wrapper would certainly catch my eye in a humidor and it screams “i’m delicious, smoke me”. The cigar has a nicely, almost perfect, rounded head, a beautiful triple cap and it feels evenly packed. I live in an area with quite a few cocoa processing plants and when I sniff the cigar that’s what I smell, raw cocoa.


I used my butterfly cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, woody and earthy with a mild pepper. After lighting I taste coffee. Soon after I taste wood, a mild pepper, a little lemon and all in a buttery, creamy way. The pepper grows and becomes the dominant flavor while the creaminess disappears. After a third I taste pepper with salt and some wood. Halfway I taste charred dark wood with pepper. The final third is charred wood, pepper and floral flavors. The floral flavor tones down, the pepper gets stronger near the end.


The draw is great while the smoke is very pretty and white, with a great thickness. The light colored ash is firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Dominican cigars, Quesada, Quesada Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

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: , , , ,

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: , , , ,

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: , , , , , , ,

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: , , , ,

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