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Fuente Lonsdale vintage 2001

Now, this cigar has a back story to it, because it was made before I started smoking cigars so I did not buy it fresh off the shelve and store it for 18 years. No, the worldwide Fuente distributor has such a huge, climate-controlled, warehouse full of cigars and raw tobacco that they lost three pallets of cigars and they were recently found while moving to a newer, bigger warehouse.


The Dutch Fuente distributor bought all the cigars and is selling them for very reasonable prices, you might even consider it cheap, since this vintage lonsdale sells for 9 euro, if they are still available. I was lucky enough to buy a pack of five of these cigars.

The wrapper is still smooth and oily after all those years in storage, but the color has changed into a yellowish brown. The cellophane is golden brown too. The 6×44 cigar feels smooth, I can’t detect any soft spots or plugs. The ring is simple, classic, Cubanesque. Just a red base, golden details and A. Fuente Gran Reserva in white letters. The one thing that sets them apart from the old school Cuban labels is the small green edge with the golden line at the bottom. The aroma is mild, hay and manure are what I smell.

After cutting I get a great cold draw, with a surprisingly peppery and mint flavor. After lighting, I taste a lot of leather, strong for a vintage cigar yet smooth. There is an earthy undertone with some hay. After half a centimeter I taste caramel with green herbs with a musty hint. The years have done this cigar good, it’s so complex, the subtle flavors are all over the board. I am also tasting cinnamon and cream. Then after a centimeter, I taste creamy cedar with a little salt and honey. I also taste a little hint of hazelnuts. I also taste licorice after a while, quite salty but with a slightly sour undertone. A little past a third I taste caramelized leather with a hint of pepper. Halfway I taste a toasted, leathery and creamy flavor. The nutty flavor returns in the final third with some pepper. The pepper gains some strength.

The ash is white, yet the smoke has a brownish color. It’s quite plentiful though. The draw is flawless. The ash isn’t firm though. The burn is razor-sharp. This cigar is smooth, complex, medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is one hour and fifty minutes.

Would I smoke this cigar again? I wish I had the opportunity
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Categories: 94, Arturo Fuente, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia | Tags: ,

Sin Compromiso Intrepido

Even though I smoked and reviewed some expensive cigars, I am quite cheap. Whenever I go to a lounge to buy some cigars, I pick medium priced cigars at most since there are some fantastic cigars under 10 euro or dollar. So getting a 16 euro cigar is something I rarely do. Yet for this cigar, I made an exemption, just because it’s made at Joya de Nicaragua by no other than Steve Saka.


The wrapper, Mexican, is grown by removing the bottom leaves time after time making sure that all the nutrients go to the top leaves. And the filler and binder are grown on farms, specially selected by Saka himself. Those farms only grow tobacco for the Sin Compromiso line. Those four factors combined made me pull the trigger.

The cigar comes without cellophane, pretty unusual for Nicaraguan cigars. But the bottom half is wrapped in cedar with the text ‘sin compromiso’ printed on it, The ring is a Celtic looking cross in black and white. No mention of which company is behind it, no country, no names whatsoever making it a cigar for the in-crowd. I like that. The dark leathery looking wrapper is intimidating. The cigar comes with a little flag tale and it’s slightly box pressed. The wrapper feels like velvet. The aroma isn’t very strong, it reminds me of cow poop and charred wood.

The cold draw is flawless, with hints of red pepper on the top of my palate and a dry flavor that I know, recognize but can’t remember what it is or how to describe it. After lighting, I’m hit with coffee, sweetness and some bitter young wood. After a few puffs, I taste some lime with green herbs. There is pepper on the background, still a sweetness up front with some leather and cedar. After an inch its slightly bitter, a combination of wood, leather, mushroom, and sweetness. Halfway it’s the nice sweetness with pepper and leather. There’s some earthiness too. This is a much more subtle cigar than I expected, but halfway the pepper picks up by a lot. The final third is sweet leather, cedar, and quite some pepper.


The draw is phenomenal. The ash is almost bright white but not very firm. The smoke is thick enough, but for my liking, it could be a bit thicker and more in volume. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is full flavored and full bodied.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, not as a daily smoke but yes.
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Categories: 94, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars, Sin Compromiso | Tags: , , ,

La Jugada Nunchuck

When I started working in the cigar industry as a sales rep, one of the retailers I connected most with was a retailer in Amsterdam. I had seen him once or twice before my employment but I heard that he had a terminal illness. It wasn’t long before he was my best customer, I would even come in on days off to smoke a cigar with him. His illness went in ups and downs, in his down I visited him a couple of times at home, in a period of up he came to my mancave to smoke a cigar. One of the last things I said to him was “on your next up, I have a cigar, or actually two fused together, that I want to share with you”. Unfortunately the next ‘up’ never came. Today would have been Berry’s birthday, so I’m smoking this cigar for him now.


The cigar I was talking about is the La Jugada Nunchuck, a 7×54 Nicaraguan puro that is fused together like a nunchuck, as the name would suggest. The cigar is made at La Zona, the small yet beautiful factory of Erik Espinosa in downtown Esteli. The brand however is Moya Ruiz. As I said, it is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano Oscuro wrapper and the cigar was released in 2014 as a limited edition of 10.000 cigars.


The appearance is unique, with a huge white ring binding the cigars together, gray lines, a red ‘splash’ star and then La Jugada Nunchuck written on top of that. The H in nunchuck are actually nunchucks. The foot of the cigar is protected with red cloth.  The wrapper s dark, yet smooth. The cigars feel well packed. I smell a mild cocoa aroma when I sniff the cigar.


After cutting I try the cold draw, which is a little on the loose side but within margins. I taste pepper. Immediately after lighting I taste an earthy, coffee and leather mix with pepper. After half an inch I taste chocolate in the aftertaste. After an inch i taste pepper, wood, milky chocolate with s nice acidity. The flavors are strong but smooth, you can taste that it’s a well aged cigar. After a third i taste wood with pepper, the strength is picking up. The pepper is getting stronger. There’s also a little acidity to keep all flavors balanced. Halfway I taste a kind of peanut flavor with the wood, pepper and acidity. Then, a little before the final third, I taste coffee again. The final third has less pepper, more coffee and more acidity, without turning sour. The finale is woody with herbs and pepper.


The draw is within the ‘good’ margin but on the easy side of it. The ash is quite dark yet firm. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is straight as can be. The cigar is smooth, full flavored and medium full bodied. The smoke time is almost two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, La Jugada, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Side Project Skull Crusher

One of the four side projects, next to the Phalanx, 52C and the Little Devil, yet the Skull Crusher was the latest to be released. Where the others saw daylight in march of 2012, this Skull Crusher was born on january 2013. I have smoked a few before and this is my favorite ‘after BBQ’ cigar, because it’s so strong and full flavored you can still taste the cigar even after all the spicy BBQ food and sauce.


The cigar, which is a figurado, 5 3/4×56 and ‘club shaped’ according to Meier & Dutch. I would call it a perfecto, but that’s just me. The cigar is packed with ligero tobacco, Nicaraguan in the filler and an Honduran Habano ligero as binder. The wrapper is Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro.


First of all, I love the shape, it reminds me a bit of a feral flying pig, yet a tad less fat and without the pigtail. The dry leathery toothy wrapper has a nice dark soil color with a few veins. The secondary ring, black with gray and golden letters, fits the regular Man O’ War ring. The cigar has the aroma of dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar, the tobacco is a bit salty. There is no cold draw because of the glued closed foot. It takes a few puffs to get passed the closed foot and get a draw. I taste some sweetness, a mild vinegar and some cedar with a hint of pepper. After a quarter of an inch I taste honey with cedar. An inch in I taste a little honey, oak and cedar plus a growing pepper. After a third pepper is the main flavor, with cedar and honey on the background. The changes are now subtle, the wood, honey and pepper constantly change in strength.


After the first quarter of an inch the draw is fantastic. The smoke is white, thick and full. The salt and pepper colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The evolution of this full bodied full flavored cigar is good. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes! Yes! Perfect as an after (vegetarian) barbecue smoke.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

San Lotano Oval Pigskin Super Smoke Figurado XLVIII

A few years ago A.J. Fernandez released this 6×60 figurado version of the San Lotano Oval for two retailers, one in New York and one in New Jersey as a gimmick for the Superbowl that was being held in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. And I happened to get this cigars a few years later from a Dutch BOTL who got his hands on a box. And what better day to publish this review than on another Superbowl Sunday right?


Now the San Lotano Oval is a well known line and you would expect that this cigar has the exact same blend, but a review by William Cooper taught me that the blend is different and actually one of the many test blends of the Mayimbe, a cigar that I loved. The cigar has filler tobacco from Nicaragua and Honduras, a Nicaraguan binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.


I love the shape of this cigar, its a piece of art. It’s a fat perfecto but then oval pressed too, very unique. The head is pointy while the foot is blunt. The wrapper is oily, coffee colored and with a silky feel. The cigar has the regular San Lotano Oval ring, the black with golden letters and the yellow banner ‘by A.J. Fernandez’ yet there is a secondary black ring with the AJF logo in red and golden letters on a white background. The aroma is strong, I live in a small town with plenty of farm fields surrounding a lake. The aroma of the cigar reminds me of early morning walks through the fields, a smell of fresh grass, cows, herbs and the dawn of a new day.


The only way to decap this cigar is with a cutter due to the shape. The cold draw is surprisingly easy, I expected a tight draw due to the pointy foot. I taste a tangy peppery cedar. After lighting I taste a beautiful mix of acidity, nutmeg, espresso and wood. The acidity mellows out and the cigar gets spicier and stronger with more pepper. After half an inch I taste more cedar with some spices.  After a third the cigar is mellow, warm flavors, wood with warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon,very pleasing. Halfway the cigar becomes stronger with a hefty pepper on a base flavor of wood.


The draw is flawless, the smoke is thick and full. The burn is straight and the gray ash is firm, with nice rings. The cigar has a lot of dynamic and evolution, especially for a 60 ring cigar. The cigar ranges from medium but grows to full, just like the flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Ave Maria Argentum

Before I started to work for a Dutch cigar importer & distributer, I used to order online from the USA and one of the cigars that I ordered a lot was the Diesel Unholy Cocktail. When I started to work for that importer & distributer I felt like I couldn’t do that anymore since it was not a legal thing to do as its considered tax evading, you are only allowed to import tobacco if you have a license with the exemption of 50 cigars that you carry across the border in person and because all my accounts were cigar shops that feel the pain of this import. But I did miss my Diesel Unholy Cocktails. So I kept asking my employer if there was a way to import these but everytime he would reply “these are made for the wholesaler that is part of Cigars International so they probably won’t sell to us anyway”. Well, after three years of nagging he finally decided to mail Meier & Dutch and much to his surprise and my happiness they were open to the idea. On top of that I ran into the responsible person a few weeks later at Tabacalera Oliva in Esteli, Nicaragua and that sealed the deal.


We started with the Diesel, Manowar and a few other cigars and slowly expanded our business with Meier & Dutch but right before the Cigaragua shop was opened I got fired as my employer had his doubts if I would be a good shopmanager. He’s wrong, but as an employee you don’t always get a chance to prove that. Too bad, because a lot of new items came in just to be sold in that shop and nowhere else in The Netherlands. Amongst those cigars is this Ave Maria Argentum, just like the Diesel Unholy Cocktail and the Manowar made by A.J. Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. I have been to the factory and its very impressive, huge, clean and I could roam free without a chaperone, something that didn’t happen anywhere else. I met Abdel too a few times, now that his English improved we can actually hold a conversation, something that was impossible before because of my lack of Spanish.


What I notice first is the shape and the color, It’s almost a flying pic but there is just a tiny difference in shape. The cigar is a 5×58 perfecto. The color is striking because its almost black, I have never seen a wrapper this dark and you can see that the sun did its work as the surface of the toothy wrapper looks like leather. Well, thats as far as you can see the wrapper because the ring is huge, and to add to that they added a second ring too. The second ring is black with big silver lining and the word Argentum written in font that makes me think of medievel times and knights. The real ring has the same black & silver theme going on with a knight, the english crest and a banner with silver letters ave maria. On the back the ring has a red cross. I like the look of the ring. The cigar feels rock hard I just hope it doesn’t have a tight draw and the strong aroma reminds me of a hay stack in a field surrounded by some cows and an angry bull.


I couldn’t punch the cigar so I had to cut it with my flat cut. The cold draw is great with some pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar carefully, expecting a tight start but from that the start the draw is good and I taste coffee with chocolate. Once the burn gets to the thicker part the flavors open and I taste cedar, pepper, cinnamon and a hint of cacao. I also taste a little sweetness, icing sugar like sweetness. The sweetness is getting a little stronger, just like the cedar. After a third I taste a nice spice mix with sugar and pepper, this is the sweetness I expect from a Maduro wrapper like this. Halfway the base flavor becomes nutty with pepper and a little bit of sweetness. Slowly but surely the cigar gets stronger and so does the pepper, the nuts change to wood.


The draw is wonderful. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The burn had to be corrected once but that always happens to me when lighting a cigar with a foot like that. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The cigar starts out medium bodied but evolved to full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a great cigar!

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Xiphos NR Habano

In my previous reviews of Xiphos I explained that the brand is made in two countries, and in the review of the Nicaraguan made Xiphos Maduro I promised to review the other Nicaraguan blend, the Xiphos Habano too. Well, here it is, a review of the Xiphos NR Habano Robusto.


The cigar is made with aged Nicaraguan filler, an Indonesian binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Only the wrapper is different from the Maduro, so if you really want to see what difference a wrapper makes, get both of these cigars and smoke them back to back. I have done this with a Studio Tobac cigar, two identical cigar and a skilled roller only changed the wrapper, it makes a huge difference.


The ring on this 5×54 robusto is exactly the same as on the other Xiphos made in Nicaragua, black with red and silver, only the text on the secondary band is different. The latte colored wrapper is smooth and mild oily. The cigar feels good, no soft spots and the cap is nice.  The aroma is quite strong and definitely a stable aroma.


I cut the cigar. I taste a fruity and peppery flavor is the cold draw, blackberry, and the only time I ever tasted that before in a cigar was in the original release of the Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic. After lighting the cigar with a simple soft flame I taste a sweet toast with the blackberries I tasted in the cold draw. The toast turns to cedar yet the blackberry flavor remains and I like it. Halfway the cigar gets stronger, more spicy and the blackberry mellows out. The spice mellows out again.


The draw is great. The light gray ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. This cigar is medium bodied at most, smooth and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they will become more widely available so I can easily get more.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa, Xiphos | Tags: , , ,

Don Lino Africa Kifaro & Gorilla Knuckle

Nestor Miranda from Miami Cigar & Co and owner of the Don Lino brand, is an avid hunter and one of his hunting trip in Africa gave him the inspiration to create the Don Lino Africa line. It has been a few years since I smoked one, as they are discontinued, but I remember that I used to love this blend of Cameroon, Mexican, Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco.

The Don Lino Africa line didn’t come out with cigars, all African named of course, but also cool accessories like ash trays and humidors with African prints. As of the African names, think of Kifaro, Duma, Tembo, Punda Milia and all those names come from the Massai and are names for the big African animals. As far as I know My Father Cigars produced the cigars for Miami Cigar & Co.

Don Lino Africa Kifaro


This is a 6 1/4×52 torpedo with a dark, oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that looks great, the color is dark chocolate and I see a few minor veins. The construction feels great and the tip of the cigar is straight. The ring is beautiful, it has a very African color pattern with zebra stripes on the background, some burgundy, a lot of yellow and a big curly and stylish A on the front and Don Lino Africa on the side on a high quality paper and print. The cigar even has an African smell, or well, as I would expect an African savanna to smell in the morning.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is fine with a toasty, raisin, peppery and minty flavor. After lighting I taste a peppery and sweet minty toast. After half an inch I taste spices, toast, lime and honey. After an inch I taste nutmeg with toast and pepper, all well balanced. Halfway I taste a strong pepper with honey and a little lime. The honey disappears and is replaced with a nice dose of lemon.


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is thick and full. The white ash is dense. The burn is decent but not perfect, it went rogue a little but it corrected itself. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored, well balanced with great evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? I wish they made a comeback.

Score: 94

 

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Don Lino Africa Gorilla Knuckle


I bought a box of these when the cigars were discontinued and these were the only remaining vitola, usually I wouldn’t buy a cigar with a 58 ring gauge but hey, I wanted some Don Lino Africa while they lasted. The ring is just as pretty as the kifaro as it’s the same ring but the wrapper looks a tiny bit lighter, just a shade though and has more veins. The tip also looks to be more in a curve and the cigar has a dryer aroma, more hay and straw than the Kifaro.


I cut the cigar, punching was no option because of the size. The cold draw is fine, I taste a mild raisin sweetness. After lighting I taste a sweet espresso with cinnamon. The espresso fades away, the cinnamon grows stronger and gets a little harsh edge, but it’s still very enjoyable. After a third I taste sugar and vanilla. In the final third I taste vanilla, cinnamon, wood and a peppery aftertaste, a little harsh but still enjoyable.


The draw is great. The smoke is thick, full, voluminous and white. The burn is a little uneven. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The cigar is medium plus bodied and flavored. The smoke time is fifty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Impossible

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, 94, Don Lino, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , ,

My Father 9/11 Ecuador Rosado Habano Robusto

As we all know, on september 11th 2001 the western world got shocked by an attack on our freedom by terrorists. The World Trade Centre in New York City was targeted by two airplanes and in the chaos 3000 people lost their life, including 343 brave fire fighters who came to the rescue. 10 years later My Father Cigars and Casa de Montecristo teamed up to commemorate their brave offer with a limited edition box, 343 made, with 9 Ecuadorean Rosado Habano and 11 Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapped cigars and all the proceedings from this box went to charity. I was lucky enough to buy a box of a fellow aficionado in need of some cash a few months later. I had smoked a few but never reviewed one, and there isn’t a more appropriate day than today.

 


The box, white with a custom logo that looks like a fire fighters batch with the twin towers on the shield says “we will never forget” both on the top as on the front of the box and it is hand numbered. My box in box 233 of 343. inside there is a piece of paper with the following text: ‘In tribute of the fallen heroes o 9/11 and in the spirit of remembrance, honor and hope My Father Cigar Company and Casa de Montecristo join to comemorate the 10th anniversary of the 343 fallen firefighters of 9/11. Presenting our special limited production blend of My Father Cigars with 9 Ecuadorian Habano Rosado and 11 Nicaraguan Habano Oscar in each box. 343 boxes are produced to honor the 343 fallen firefighter heroes’.

 


The cigars are naked, and with that I mean that except for cellophane, they have no rings. Now usually I give points for rings too, that is impossible now so instead I gave points for the box and the whole thought behind this limited edition and just because of that I have given it the full 50 points. The cigars can only be kept apart by the color of the wrapper, and thats only a slight color difference. The wrapper is quite dark with a little tooth, a long thin vein and some oil, it looks beautiful but a ring would have finished it. The construction is immaculate, the triple cap is flawless and the cigar has a strong barnyard aroma, even after 6 years I still smell some ammonia.

 


I punched the cigar and when I try the cold draw, which is flawless, I taste a very spicy, peppery and acidic flavor. The first flavors I taste after I lit the cigar with my soft flame are dark roast black coffee with some toast. Quickly some sugar appears with spices. After an inch the flavors have changed to coffee, nutmeg, pepper, a hint of cocoa and some citrus. Then all of a sudden the flavors change to toast, pepper and chocolate with a citrus aftertaste. And after that I taste nuts with pepper. After two thirds the pepper becomes the main flavor.

 


The draw is great, quite flawless. The ash is rough, silver gray in color with black smears but it’s firm. The burn is a little crooked. The smoke is quite thick and plenty in amount. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish! I hope My Father releases this blend as a new regular line.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, My Father, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

601 La Bomba Napalm

This is an addition to the 601 series that every cigar aficionado knows or should know. The brand has a bit of a history, first owned by Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega at EO Brands and made at My Father cigars, then made by Rocky Patel when he distributed EO Brands and when EO Brands fell apart, Espinosa got the brand and now makes the cigars at his own La Zona factory downtown Esteli. And he created this new La Bomba line.


Now I was trying to find some information on the blend and I read about Ecuadorean wrappers, Connecticut Broadleaf, Nicaraguan Habano, so I’m confused, some websites even say it’s a Nicaraguan puro and the Espinosa website is ‘coming soon’ at the time of writing this review. All I can tell is that I bought it at one of the Smoke Inn locations back in 2014, after I returned from Nicaragua and spend a week in Florida before I flew back home.


The dark wrapper is dry and leathery, but what stands out is the long pig tail, that looks like a flint that is on a stick of dynamite, kind of like the firecrackers that the Two Guys Smoke Shop has made as a yearly limited edition by different factories. The wrapper is flawless, The construction feels good and the long flint makes the cigar quite unique. The ring is bright yellow with a 601 print of which the 0 is a bomb, a white banner saying la bomba, the brightness of the yellow is great. The aroma is quite strong and smells like barnyard with manure.


I cut the cigar because of the flint on the cap. The cold draw is a bit easy and has a well fermented tobacco taste with a spicy undertone. I lit the cigar with a single torch. I taste coffee, full and strong. After a quarter of an inch I taste wood and pepper. After a third I taste cedar, pepper and cinnamon, all strong and bold. Halfway the pepper toned down a little and I taste wood with a strange but tasty carrot flavor. The final third starts very peppery again.


The draw is loose, too loose for my liking. That makes the smoke a little thin. After a few puffs the draw and smoke get much better. The frayed ash is almost white. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is one of the strongest cigars I have smoked in a long time and the flavors are equally strong and bold. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? In the future I’ll be singing La Bomba every time I hear Ritchie Valens or Los Lobos. Great cigar.

Score: 94
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Categories: 601, 94, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

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