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Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto

Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto. A limited-edition from DH Boutique Cigars. Only 480 boxes of 21 cigars of the Nicarao Especial 2015 Reserve Robusto were released. They were spread over the 30+ countries where the cigars from Didier Houvenaghel are being distributed. The cigars aren’t available in the United States.


This cigar is made with all Nicaraguan tobacco. The wrapper comes from Jalapa, and it’s a rosado wrapper. That’s all the details we could find on this cigar. The size is 5 inches long with a ring of 52. This cigar was given to Ministry of Cigars by Houvenaghel during a get together with an Indonesian cigar manufacturer and Marc Benden from Cigarworld Dusseldorf.


The wrapper is smooth, soft, silky and reddish-brown. It looks really tasty. The ring is nice, green with black volcanos honoring Nicaragua. The yellow of the Nicarao brand name pops up. And that Houvenaghel didn’t copy the Habanos limited edition ring is a plus too. The shape of the cigar is great with a perfectly round head. The aroma is medium strong, wood, barnyard and something spicy.


The cold draw is fantastic, and it’s spicy. The cigar starts rough and powerful, with coffee, spices, and pepper. The bitterness is pleasant yet strong. After a few puffs, there is a clear cinnamon flavor. There is a unique sweetness too, like old candy. The flavors become richer, with wood, earthiness, coffee, spices, pepper, and sweetness. Rich yet smooth, so the cigar is easy to retrohale. The sweetness becomes stronger and leather shows up. There are some hay, toast, and spices. The second third starts with walnuts, pepper, and sweetness. The mouthfeel is dry. The flavors evolve. The main flavors are cocoa, leather, wood, and pepper. In the final third, there’s pepper, leather, cinnamon, nutmeg, and wood.


The draw is fantastic. The ash is white and dense. It isn’t firm though. The smoke is thick and white. The burn is straight. This cigar is complex, rich, yet smooth and balanced. The smoke time is an hour and thirty minutes

would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicarao, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez

Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble Brindis

Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble Brindis. That is a long name. But a beautiful idea. Collaborations have been going on for the longest time in the cigar industry. But in the last few years, more and more occur. Balmoral joined the collaboration train in 2018 when they launched the Balmoral Serie Signaturas. Their maiden release was a collaboration with Ernesto Perez Carrillo, called the Dueto. Ministry of Cigars reviewed that cigar. And for the second annual release, Royal Agio teamed up with La Flor Dominicana. Boris Wintermans from Agio and Litto Gomez from La Flor Dominicana had known each other for years and joined forces for the Balmoral Serie Signaturas Paso Doble. A three size limited edition release. We are reviewing the Perfecto, which is called the Brindis. Brindis means toast, so cheers.


The Paso Doble is named after a military march. Its speed allowed troops to give 120 steps per minute. This march gave rise to a traditional Spanish dance, a musical genre including both voice and instruments, and a genre of instrumental music often played during bullfighting. The cigar is made from Dominican fillers, and the binder is also Dominican. The tobacco comes from the farm of La Flor Dominicana. The wrapper is a dark Ecuadorian Habano. We are reviewing the Perfecto, which is called the Brindis. Brindis means toast, so cheers.


The cigar looks amazing. The shape is eye-catching. And the little knot on top of the cigar is a beautiful finishing touch. The rings are huge. Deep blue, popping gold and the Balmoral Añejo gray with white. The design and print quality is top-notch. The details are amazing, up to the signatures of Boris Wintermans and Litto Gomez. The dark wrapper looks oily and leathery, evenly colored as well. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong, it reminds us of hay, straw, farmland, and wood.


The cold draw is great, with flavors of salty potato chips and pepper. After lighting, it’s a sweet espresso with pepper. Some leather is involved as well with a little bit of chocolate. The flavors evolve to soil, coffee, leather, spices, and pepper. Slowly it continues to change, subtle, with a little cream, a little vanilla, more dark chocolate. The pepper is there, but it’s mellow. The flavors fluctuate in strength, sometimes the pepper is dominant, then it’s the coffee and chocolate, then the earthiness. There isn’t much evolution, yet it’s never boring. In the last third, there’s a little salt as well.


The draw is perfect. The ash is quite dark, yet firm. The burn needed a few touch-ups. The smoke is fine. The flavors are balanced, smooth yet full. Just like the strength, that’s full too. The smoke time is three and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish
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Categories: 93, Balmoral, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , ,

Partagas Salomones – Vintage –

In 2008 Habanos introduced the Partagas Salomones as a La Casa del Habano exclusive cigar. But the cigars were not new. They have been released as special releases before such as in the 1995 humidor. And in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you could buy bundles of these cigars on Cuba. Counterfeits weren’t as rampant as today, factories weren’t as strict as now. So it was possible to have real, good quality cigars with the correct blend outside of the regular production portfolio.

The Partagas Salomones has been a regular production since 2008. But exclusively sold in La Casa del Habano shops worldwide. With an extra LCDH ring of course. Other Partagas Salomones releases were the Salomones Espanola in the 1995 Partagas Espanola humidor. A smaller version, one inch smaller to be precise, was released in the Silo XXI Millennium Humidor from 1999. And the 2000 Partagas 155 Aniversario humidor had the 7¼x57 Partagas Salomones as well. Since the cigar that we are reviewing is from 2000, it’s most likely that it is an overproduction cigar for this humidor that was sold in a bundle.

The cigar looks great. The shape is amazing. The wrapper is Colorado colored, mild oily and only has one thin vein. The old Partagas ring is used. That means the cigar is pre-2002. That’s when the rings changed. The touch is great, the right amount of bounce when we softly squeeze the cigar. And the cigar has this mild grassy and hay aroma that you can only find in vintage cigars.

The cold draw is a bit tight, but that has to do with the shape. The flavor is leather with spice. Quite strong for a vintage cigar. Right from the start, I taste salt and leather. This is the leather that was so typical for Cubans back in the day. There’s also a very mild pepper and some cedar. Leather remains, a nice floral sweetness shines through. Complex, well balanced. The mouthfeel is very creamy. Mild cinnamon is there as well. A few puffs later, there is some toast. After an inch, there’s a faint flavor that comes close to Nutella. Hazelnut and chocolate, but it’s very faint. The dry, aged, leather is the base flavor, the other flavors dance around it. Sometimes it’s cedar, sometimes pepper. Sometimes floral flavors and then the chocolate again. All well balanced like a beautiful ballet performance. Sophisticated is the right way to describe the flavors. After a third, the pepper becomes a bit more prominent. Not that it comes close to being a pepper bomb, it remains subtle. Chocolate becomes stronger too, slowly. In the last third, the sweetness is stronger. Almost like drinking a nice, small sip of sugar water. But still, with the leather and pepper. The sweetness mellows out, the pepper gains some strength. The flavors get a little salty as well.

The draw is great. The light-colored ash is firm. The smoke is good. It’s not a Drew Estate smoke bomb, but the smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. Very complex, subtle and sophisticated. Delicate almost. And it shows how good Cuban cigars can be if the tobacco is treated the right way. If the soil is well maintained. If no shortcuts are taken in the fermentation and aging. And when quality control is at a high level. The smoke time is three hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Buying a rare 19-year-old cigar is impossible

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Categories: 93, Cuban cigars, Partagas (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Alec Bradley Magic Toast Robusto

The name Magic Toast comes from when Ralph Montero and Alan Rubin inspected the tobacco fields. Their flight got delayed, they weren’t able to reach the factory in time so they decided to inspect the tobacco fields instead. And when they saw the high quality of the tobacco that was growing, they grabbed a bottle of whisky from their luggage and made a toast, a magic toast.

I’m smoking this very dark Maduro cigar as a magic toast to friends. My buddy Mac passed away earlier this year of a massive heart attack. He was only 51. And then another friend, Paul, took his life a few days before smoking this cigar. He lost his wife a year ago and couldn’t live life without her. And this is all while a third friend is fighting for his life, he’s in a coma after a brain aneurysm. I’m toasting to them.

This is one of the darkest wrappers I have ever seen. Dark and oily. Smooth and beautiful. Almost unreal how dark it is. The blue ring is very detailed, and the font reminds me of old school magic shows. The paper quality is high, just like the print. The construction feels good. And the cigar has a strong aroma, wood, and hay.

The cold draw is great. I taste raw tobacco with a hint of dark chocolate. Once lit I taste peppery dried grass, coffee and a lot of dark chocolate. A few puffs later I also taste leather. But the chocolate is the main flavor. High quality, extra dark chocolate. There is a mild acidity to tie all the flavors together. The mouthfeel is mild creamy. Halfway I taste coffee with chocolate, leather, hay and dried leaves. The chocolate remains the base flavor, but with changing levels of pepper, leather, wood, spices, and hay. Very nice.

The draw is great. The ash is light colored and quite firm. The smoke could be a bit thicker, but it gets better the further I progress in the cigar. And I had to correct the burn in the beginning. This is a medium bodied, full flavored cigar with lots of nuances. Well balanced. I’m a fan

Would I buy this cigar again? You betcha.

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Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , ,

Tobacco Lords Speirs

Alexander Speirs was one of the biggest tobacco traders from Glasgow. And Glasgow was once the epicenter of the European tobacco trade. During the mid of the American revolution, approximately half of all tobacco in Western Europe was stored in Glasgow. And Alexander Speirs owned twenty percent of that. Most of it came from his own plantations in Virginia. He was not only influential in Europe, but his brother in law was nobody less than George Washington. He married the sister of George Washington’s wife.


The Scottish cigar and liquor shop Robert Graham 1874 created this cigar. For that, they worked with Joya de Nicaragua. And they came up with two blends. One Maduro and one Natural. With their Scottish blood, they used the Tobacco Lords history to create the name. The cigars don’t carry the name of the size, but the name of one of the tobacco lords from the 1770s. The Maduro robusto is named after Alexander Speirs.

The wrapper is matt. The rings look good. Red with silver lettering and a black circle with a sailing ship. The foot ring is red with the name of the tobacco lord in white. The cigar looks good, feels good and smells good. The aroma is strong. And it’s a mixture of dark chocolate with straw and wood.


The cold draw is perfect. The flavor is weird, pleasant but weird. Black licorice with some raw tobacco and soil. Unusual. Once lit, it’s an instant ground coffee, leather and soil flavor mix. With a dry mouthfeel. On the background, there’s a little milk chocolate sweetness. After a few puffs, it’s all coffee with marzipan. After a centimeter, the cigar turns to green herbs and hay. The cigar evolves into more grassy with green herbs. And the mouthfeel is more buttery. After a third, its a creamy, grassy, wooden, and leathery taste. A little chocolate shows up too, very faint. And walnuts. There’s also a little bit of pepper. In the final third, the nuts pick up in strength. The flavors are all nuts, leather and a bit of citrus.

The draw is phenomenal. Just the right amount of resistance. And that helps to create thick smoke. The burn is a bit off but manages to correct itself each time. The ash is light colored. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. Well balanced and smooth. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, they are worth it.

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Categories: 93, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars, Tobacco Lords | Tags: , , , , ,

Orchant Selección by Drew Estate Lightweight

Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate Lightweight. Mitchel Orchant is the managing director of C.Gars Limited, the leading cigar retailer in the U.K. With several shops, a great online presence and regular auctions of hard to find, aged, and vintage cigars. And he has loaned his name to the Orchant Seleccion series. It started with limited numbers of boxes with Cuban cigars that were handpicked by Orchant in cooperation with the U.K. Habanos distributor. But in recent years, Orchant worked with Davidoff, Regius, Oliva, and Alec Bradley for limited editions carrying his seal of approval. And the 2019 release is a collaboration between Orchant and Drew Estate. The cigars will be released soon, in three sizes. Ministry of Cigars will review all three of them, starting with the 3½x46 Lightweight.

The Orchant Seleccion by Drew Estate comes in three sizes. At the moment of reviewing them, the cigars have not been released. Our samples came with factory rings. Yet in our article of July 13th, some artwork is shown that might end up being used on the ring. All three cigars share the same blend and have the same 46 ring gauge. And it’s refreshing to see a full line with small ring gauges and only small ring gauges. The cigars are made in Nicaragua and will be sold exclusively by C.Gars LTD on their website and in their Turmeaus shops all over England. The blend consists of Indonesian, Dominican, Nicaraguan and American grown tobacco. The binder comes from the Indonesian island Sumatra. The wrapper is grown in Connecticut. It’s a Habano variety, harvested with the Stalk Cut method which is also used for the Liga Privada.

The cigar looks good. Small yet dark, with a leathery toothy wrapper. The wrapper is quite oily as well. No thick veins are visible and the shape is good. The cigar feels evenly spongy. The aroma is strong, oak and hay.


The cold draw is good, raw tobacco with a little bit of black pepper is the cold draw flavor. The first puffs are Cuban coffee, strong and sweet. The cigar is spicy, peppery. The flavors remain in the wood, animal, coffee, and pepper part of the flavor wheel. There’s even a very mind dark chocolate flavor, on the background. Halfway the cigar gets some floral and vanilla notes, with strong pepper and a mild fresh aftertaste. The wood is still there with some nuts. In the final third, the pepper becomes really strong.

 

The draw is flawless. The ash is white as snow. And the smoke is typical Drew Estate. Thick, full and plentiful. The burn is razor-sharp. The cigar is full-bodied and full-flavored. Don’t let the lightweight name fool you, there is nothing light about this cigar. It’s strong. The smoke time is one hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would like more yes.

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Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Orchant Selección | Tags: , , , , , ,

Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig

After the huge success of the Liga Privada offspring Undercrown, Drew Estate decided to build on that brand. So a few years later, the Undercrown Shade was released. I reviewed that cigar a few days ago.

So it wasn’t a question if there would be a third Undercrown blend. The question was “what will it be?”. And the follow-up question was “when will it be released?”. Well, it became the Undercrown Sun Grown. And it was released in 2017.

Just like the Liga Privada blends and the regular Undercrown, the Sun Grown utilizes stalk-cut tobacco. That means that the leaves are not picked from the plant. The whole plant is cut down and then hung to try, upside down. Only the Undercrown Shade doesn’t use stalk-cut tobacco. A flying pig in the new Undercrown blend was a must. So the rollers at the Gran Fabrica Drew Estate made the signature shape for the new blend as well.

The cigar looks amazing. The shape is cool. The pigtail is the icing on the cake. The ring is beautiful. And just like with the shade, the color scheme fits the wrapper. The Colorado colored wrapper matches well with the burgundy and gold rings. The wrapper has a mild shine from natural oils. A few thin veins, and it’s a looker. The aroma is strong. It smells like hay, straw, and sheep.

The cold draw is easy. With a spicy fried grass flavor. Once lit its classic espresso, leather, and pepper. All with a drop of citrus. The flavors then change to hay, leather, wood and some nutmeg. The mouthfeel is dry. Caramel like sweetness on the background. When the burn reaches the wider part of the cigars, the flavors burst out. A nice lemon acidity, pepper, toast, wood, and leather. And then some dark chocolate with pepper. And later even some nuts. The flavors are full but refined. No harshness, well rounded. After a third, the mouthfeel becomes a little creamy. The sweetness is mild. With the pepper, it supports the nutty flavor.

The draw is great. The cigar is a classic Drew Estate smoke bomb. Don’t smoke this cigar in an unventilated room. The light-colored ash is firm. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is an amazing two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

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Categories: 93, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , ,

My Father La Opulencia Robusto

My Father Cigars is one of my favorite factories. Most of the cigars they make, whether it is for their own company, for Tatuaje, for Ashton, for Crowned Heads or other I like them. And I have been lucky enough to have visited the factory on multiple occasions. And I had an amazing dinner on the hacienda of My Father Cigars, surrounded by tobacco fields. Sweet memories that make me only appreciate their cigars more.

The La Opulencia has Nicaraguan Corojo, Criollo, and Habano as filler. There’s a double binder, Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo. The wrapper is from Ecuador, it’s a Rosado Oscuro type of leaf. I smoked the robusto and my expectations were high. Since I’m a fan, and I had never smoked this one before, I was really looking forward to it. The artwork on the box comes from the old La Opulencia brand, which is a discontinued Cuban brand. The artwork is from the late 1800s and it fits with the themes My Father chose for Antiguedad, Flor de Las Antillas and La Gran Offerte which are also discontinued Cuban brands. For those lines, the original artwork was used too.


The cigar looks good, with its dark wrapper. The wrapper feels like velvet. The aroma is strong, soil, barnyard, forest kind of aromas. The cigar has a green, cloth, food band to protect the foot of the cigar. The regular, pinkish, my father ring is on top with a secondary ring in the same style. The secondary ring carries the name La Opulencia. The construction feels great, the triple cap is beautiful.

The cold draw is perfect. The cigar has a little spice, yet a quite dry tobacco aroma. Straight from the start, I taste coffee, leather, chocolate, soil, and oak. This is full flavored. The chocolate is getting a little stronger. But the leather is lingering around, just like roasted coffee beans, some citrus freshness, and hay. There is a nice, spicy, fruity sweetness that compliments the milk chocolate flavor. After a third, the classic My Father/Don Pepin Garcia pepper starts to shine through. After a third, I still taste the chocolate, although it’s turning into dark chocolate. The pepper is still there on the background and aftertaste, with some hay and leather. The mouthfeel is buttery, creamy. Halfway, I taste roasted coffee with chocolate, pepper, some sweetness, and leather, all well balanced and tied together with some citrus. In the final third, I taste more roasted coffee beans, pepper, some oak and leather with citrus. The nuances are great, so there is evolution even though the base flavors are constant. Near the end, I taste more nuts, still that chocolate, pepper, and leather with that buttery mouthfeel.

The ash is salt and pepper colored. Flaky but firm. The burn is good, not perfect but good. The ash is medium thick and full. This cigar starts out medium bodied, full flavored but creeps up to full bodied, full flavored. The smoke time is two hours and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes yes yes

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Categories: 93, My Father, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Alec Bradley Fine & Rare RS10=(86) 2018

For the last couple of years, Alec Bradley is releasing a limited edition. Well, two actually, the Filthy Hooligan and the Fine and Rare. Where the Filthy Hooligan is more of a gimmick for St Patrick’s day, the Fine & Rare is an ultra-premium cigar. The first release utilized 9 or 10 different kinds of tobacco. And every year, Alec Bradley is making something special from their Fine & Rare release.

For the 2018 release, they used a size that was used before. A 6½x56 Parejo Toro Gordo. And all they disclosed about the cigar was the origin of the wrapper. The wrapper comes from Honduras. The binder and filler are undisclosed.

Where not much of the blend is revealed, there are still a lot of details known. The ring reveals a lot. It has the roll date. In this case that’s between March 26 and April 1st of 2017. The number of boxes, 2500, is mentioned on the ring. The total production of the week van 638. The release date of 24 October 2018 is printed on the ring. As well as the names and signatures of the rollers Juan Carlos Artica and Wilmar Jose Valerio. But that’s not all, supervisors and quality control also signed the ring.

he Colorado colored wrapper looks great. Thing veins, a little shine of the oil. The construction feels great too but what do you expect when the rollers, supervisors and quality controllers are mentioned by name on the ring. They can’t afford to deliver a plugged cigar. And as mentioned in the intro, the ring tells a lot. The rolling date, the weekly production, who rolled it, the number of boxes. The aroma is medium strong and would be best described at barnyard.

The cold draw is great. Yet it doesn’t have a lot of flavors. Mild raw tobacco is all that is noticeable. The cigar starts with a nutty, toasty flavor. And a little bit of coffee. The cigar is very creamy. With some fresh acidity on the background that comes close to green apple. Slowly some leather and pepper shine through, while the green apple disappears. The flavors are all subtle and smooth so far. The sweetness in the cigar is best described as caramel, salted caramel as there is a salty flavor too. The nut flavor returns, with leather, pepper, and salt as backing vocals. After a third, the sweetness and the pepper are the stronger flavors. But they remain smooth, soft and complex. There’s also a grassy undertone. Slowly a minty freshness shows up in the aftertaste. The sweetness changes from caramel to powdered sugar. In the final third, there is a distinct milk chocolate flavor with hay and pepper. The sweetness turns to caramel again. Near the end, I taste nuts again, with sweetness and leather. There’s also a hint of coffee in the last few puffs

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The draw is great, the perfect amount of air flow resistance. The ash is light colored. The burn is beautiful. The smoke is thick and white. The cigar is smooth and complex. Medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is four hours

Would I buy this cigar again? Not for 25 euro, although it’s a good smoke. Yet if I have to choose between a Cohiba BHK or this Alec Bradley Fine and Rare, I know I’ll get this one.

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Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , ,

Ave Maria Divinia

Another Ave Maria, this time the DIvinia, that makes the third Ave Maria review this month and the final one but that doesn’t mean I reviewed all Ave Maria cigars, there are more out there still like the Argentum and the Immaculata that I still hope to try some day.


The Ave Maria Divinia has just one vitola, like the Reconquista but this time its a 6×54 toro. And just like the Reconquista, the cigars come individually packed in coffins and have a premium price tag compared to other cigars from A.J. Fernandez and Meier & Dutch. The cigar is made from Nicaraguan Cuban Seed tobacco topped with a Sun Grown Habano wrapper.


The coffin immediately catches your eye due to the deep blue color and the white logo. When you open the tube you will find a box pressed, cellophane wrapped cigar. The wrapper has a nice brown color, deep but not too dark, a leathery structure and touch. The ring is top notch, beautifully shaped, the Ave Maria knight and a nice secondary ring in blue but the outlines are fantastic, like a fading silver with a white undercoat, so much detail, amazing.  The construction is great and the cigar looks well finished. The aroma is pleasant, a rich barnyard smell.


After cutting I taste an citrus flavor with a perfect resistance in the draw. After lighting I taste a perfect mix of sweet, sour and spice, all coated in coffee. After half an inch I taste more of a mocha flavor than that sweet coffee. The flavors change to a spice sweetness with cedar. Halfway I also taste some chocolate, white pepper shows up in the aftertaste. The pepper slowly grows to the dominant flavor and is very strong near the end.


The burn is sharp, couldn’t be more straight. The light colored ash had thin rings, it’s firm. The draw has the perfect amount of resistance. The smoke has good volume but it’s thin. The cigar is smooth, medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No doubt

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Ave Maria, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

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