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Jas Sum Kral Kralot Toro (pre-release)

I have known Riste, the owner of Jas Sum Kral, for years and even got him his first international distribution deal outside of the USA. Last month he came over to Europe for a two day event in The Netherlands, a few events in Sweden and the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund, Germany. During his days in The Netherlands I was his host and designated driver, a video of that trip can be seen here.


While he was here Riste handed me a handful of the 2018 release, the Kralot, but of course with pre-release rings. Now for fair scoring I rate the official artwork, made by Nuzli Hakiim, and not the simple pre-release ring. As far as I know it’s a Nicaraguan puro made at the Tabacalera Noa factory from Noel Rojas, a factory which never let me down.


The artwork now is simple, but the JSK Lion will be on the ring with added details, it will be the bomb. The wrapper is evenly dark, almost black, and it feels like very fine sanding paper. The construction is flawless, evenly packed, great triple cap and a closed foot. The cigar has a very strong, smoky aroma, not as strong as the Kentucky Fire Cured or Pappy van Winkle by Drew Estate but it reminds me of those cigars.


I decided to cut the cigar using my Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is great and spicy. After lighting I taste a smokey barbecue flavor, a bit sour but strong and spicy, with a sweet finish. The strong smokey barbecue flavor mellows out quickly and some vanilla fights it’s way to the surface.  After a third I taste a carrot like flavor, which I love, with spices and sweetness. The barbecue returns with a nice honey sweetness and vanilla, well balanced and sweet. The final third starts out a little spicier, with a little pepper on my tongue. The pepper grows to a strong pepper, overpowering until I have to put the cigar out because I’m burning my fingers.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is full, I get plenty of smoke but it’s not a super thick one. The ash is almost white, a beautiful contrast with the dark wrapper, and its dense and firm. The burn is beautiful and straight. The cigar starts full bodied and full flavored but mellows out to a medium full blend. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, can’t wait till they get released.

Score: 95
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your reviewer and Riste Riatevski (Jas Sum Kral)

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Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Warped Little Havana Corona Gorda

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

Warped Wednesday – Warped Little Havana Corona Gorda

Back in the day, I think it was somewhere in 2007, I joined the Club Stogie board and left when it turned into Puff. The eleven moderators of Club Stogie started Cigar Asylum and I joined there and I’ve been a member since. But back then Kyle Gellis from Warped was just a young entrepeneur, his brand existed but wasn’t really active, he sold some cigars on the board and that was it. He has a small stash and when it was sold out it was sold out, it was more of a hobby than a company back then, or at least, that was my impression.


I’m very impressed with what Kyle did since the last time I’ve seen him at a cigar event at one of the Smoke Inn shops back in 2010 I think. He’s now one of the highest rating boutique brands and that without a huge social media outreach like other small brands. Because I’m not in the USA since he released all his new cigars I haven’t had the chance to smoke them, I did try to convince my previous employer to start distributing the Nicaraguan made Warped blends but he wouldn’t as he isn’t good with boutique brands. But I still have two, almost a decade old, test blends and two, just as old, Warped Little Havana Private blend cigars, one 5.5×44 Corona Grande and one torpedo and I will review the corona grande today on Warped Wednesday.


Now Kyle never confirmed or denied that these cigars were made by El Titan de Bronze but seeing his ties to that factory, the name of the blend and the fact that he did say that these were Miami made cigars I am fairly sure that they are made by Sandy Cobas and her team. The cigar has a beautiful deep dark brown color with beautiful thin veins and just looks mouth watering. The construction feels good, all evenly packed, no soft spots or plugs with a beautiful cap. The ring is simple, just a small back ring with a toxic green colored Warped in a fancy font. On the back side, and I love this detail, it says private blend 8/27/08 so I know exactly when the cigar was made. The aroma is still there after all these years, wood but not the fresh wood kind, a hint of dark chocolate and some floral notes.


I cut the cigar and unfortunately damage the cap because I used the cheap freebie cutter that was in my reach instead of getting up and getting one of my Xikar or Palio cutters. The cold draw is great and has a floral taste with a peppery aftertaste. A vintage cigar needs to be lit with a vintage lighter so I grabbed my Ronson varaflame and lit the cigar. I taste spices like nutmeg, cinnamon with a caramel like sweetness. After a few puffs I taste oak with the spices and a mild peppery aftertaste. After a third I taste peppery floral flavors with a mild cedar. Slowly the spices and cedar get stronger, a little lime shows up too and the pepper is also on the rise. Near the end the floral flavor is back and with some strength. I also taste a little salt


The draw is perfect and so is the smoke. White, thick, plentiful, just the way I like it. The burn isn’t completely straight though. The ash however is firm, and a beautiful light gray. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The evolution is great in this complex and extremely well balanced cigar. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish.

Score: 95
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Categories: 95, American cigars, Tabacalera El Titan de Bronze, Warped | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro

I knew Riste, the man behind Jas Sum Kral, from Facebook and when he released his first batch of the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, just in a toro size back then, he send a few to Hans van de Witteboer, the owner of Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven with the instruction to give me one the next time I visited Hans’s shop. So my next visit as a salesman Hans gave me the cigar and it blew me away, what an amazing cigar. I talked to my boss about this, he didn’t like the story on the Jas Sum Kral website and wasn’t even close to being interested in importing and distributing the cigars. I did though, so once Riste decided to do some line extensions I calculated the fixed prices for The Netherlands based upon his export prices, pre-sold 40+ boxes in just 5 shops and went back to my employer who then quickly made a deal with Riste.


Now I won’t bother you with the story on the name of the cigar, how it was blended, as this cigar has had so much buzz on social media that everybody will probably know it and if not, google is your best friend. And all the social media buzz is well deserved considering all the ‘top 10/25’ lists of 2016 as Jas Sum Kral is mentioned in a lot of them which is quite remarkable for such a new and small brand, thats not being sold in a lot of shops yet, but if the FDA doesn’t screw the cigar industry up that will change, mark my words and it his slipstream other cigars rolled by Noel Rojas in his Tabacalera NOA in Esteli, like Ohana and Prendelo will follow. Now I don’t mention Rojas his own brands Rojas Reserva, Guayacan and Sabor de Esteli because they already have a wider spread in location. Even though the cigars are rolled at Tabacalera NOA, Riste blended the Jas Sum Kral himself.


When I release the 6×52 toro from the cellophane coat I feel a leathery Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has a few veins and some sparkling from minerals. The construction feels great and the cigar has a close foot and a very pretty pigtail, this shows some skills from the rollers at the NOA factory. The ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim is a piece of art, burgundy with gold, very detailed with lions and lots of small decorations.  When you think of it, the cigars are blended by a Macedonian American, rolled by a Cuban that has a company in Nicaragua and the ring is designed by a Singaporean, this cigar is the epiphany of globalization. The aroma is medium strong and has a little charred wood mixed with manure smell.


Because of the pigtail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine considering the closed foot and I taste mild black tea and a stronger pepper flavor. Once I lit the cigar I taste some leather with blueberry and pepper, with a little fresh aftertaste. After a few puffs I taste some spices with the berries and the fresh aftertaste. After half an inch i taste a little more pepper with toast, some sweetness and a little spice. After an inch i taste more toasted bread with some cinnamon. I get a dry feeling in the back of my throat and still a bit berry and pepper. Then the berry changes into creamy chocolate. After a third I taste cedar with toast, pepper, chocolate and herbs with the creamy chocolate as the strongest. Halfway it’s chocolate with pepper and herbs. Slowly some spices show up again. The chocolate disappears and I taste cedar with spices and pepper, the flavor is amazing. The pepper is gaining strength but the background cedar and spices are still amazing.


The draw is good, just a little bit tight but all within margins. The smoke could be a little thicker but there is enough smoke. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is as straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored, well balanced with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not complain if this was the only cigar I was allowed to smoke for the rest of my life.

Score: 95
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Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero

From 2010 till 2015, when the Dutch FDA closed us down, I was one of the people behind the Dutch Big Smoke. One day, in the early summer of 2012, I went to the zoo with my nephew and my phone rings, unknown number, I pick up and it was the marketing manager of Royal Agio telling me that they wanted to introduce a new Balmoral cigar, the Balmoral Anejo 18, and asked me of we could fit them in at the Big Smoke mid september. Now Balmoral is mainly known for their shortfillers that, in The Netherlands, are sold in convenience stores, gas stations etc and their line of longfillers are dated and way under the radar of the cigar geeks like me, the only Balmoral I liked at the moment was the Balmoral Dominican Selection, a short filler dry cigar with Dominican tobacco and its a very good cigar for a short filler. So my response was blunt “why do you think we want a gas station cigar on the Big Smoke?”. Boy, was I wrong there!


A few weeks later Jaco de Kramer, who now owns Jacks’ Cigar bar in Rotterdam, tells me that he was at a barbecue and one of the Wintermans (owners of Agio) was there and he smoked that unreleased cigar, according to him it was great. I decided to call the Agio Marketing manager and told him to meet me, my employer, my Big Smoke co-organizer and Ed van Dalen, a well known cigar retailer, in the Van Dalen Lounge in Rotterdam the next Friday with some samples so we could try them and make up our minds. So that Friday he showed up, we all cut the cigar, lit it and after 3 puffs I look at the Agio guy and go “ok, how do you want to proceed from here?”, that cigar was great, and like I was so wrong to shut him down on that first phone call. Now the Anejo 18 had an 18 year old wrapper, so after 2 years of production they ran out of it and the follow up was the Balmoral Anejo XO, which came pretty close to the Anejo 18. I jumped for joy when I heard Agio would do a limited run of my favorite vitola, a 7×40 lancero. First they were released in the States but then 750 cigars (75 boxes of 10) came to The Netherlands. I managed to buy two at Primera Lelycentre, the shop of Ronald Riecker, a very passionated tobacco retailer in Lelystad.


I just love the size, not just because a Lancero has a beautiful wrapper to filler ratio, the wrapper gives most of the flavor, because of the low amount of filler the cigar gets more dynamic, its also an elegant cigar due to the length and the slenderness of the ring gauge. For the blend Agio used Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Dominican Olor binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and as expected from Brazilian wrappers it is a bit rustic yet it also has a mild oily shine. A nice detail is the small pig tail. The construction feels good. The cigar has a deep, dark and relatively strong barnyard aroma, like walking into a stable with some cows but before they pissed all over the floor. The cigar has a double ring, a gray foot band with a white and gold line at the bottom and golden letters saying Anejo XO and in smaller letters Lancero FT. The normal band is white and gray with gray and golden letters. It says Balmoral on top in white and the B logo in gold, near the bottom it says Lancero FT in gray and underneath edicion 2016 limitada in white and god. The band is simple but tasteful, no coloring, its very clear what it is and I like it.


Because of the ring gauge and the pig tail I cut the cigar and this time I used a cutter from the Spanish company HF Barcelona. The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is mild spicy. After I lit the cigar with my Ronson lighter I taste a very pleasant full coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste some dark chocolate. Soon after I also taste pepper, it’s all balanced.

After in inch the coffee is gone and I taste spices, chocolate and some herbs. A third in I taste herbs, cedar and some nuts with a peppery aftertaste. Every few puffs I taste a faint chocolate too. Halfway there is a little citrus flavor too. When I review I don’t eat anything and I only drink water but I think this cigar would be spectacular with some dark chocolate. Slowly but surely the cigar gains strength and becomes more peppery. After two thirds pepper is the main flavor but every now and then I still taste the chocolates.


The draw is perfect, 100 out of 100 points. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is frayed, light gray with dark spots but it is firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is full bodied and full of strong full flavors yet well balanced and full of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m afraid they are all sold out, I would by a box or two, or three, or four, or five if possible.

Score: 95

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Categories: 95, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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