Puros de Hostos Churchill & Box Pressed Toro

I’ve not written about the Puros de Hostos Lancero before and thats a surprise. This Dominican boutique brand that I came across while being part of the tasting panel for the Belgian/Dutch cigar magazine El Gusto blew me away. It had such an amazing palate that I brought a cigar to my then employer and even though the price was relatively high we decided to start carrying the cigars, and for a while they sold like hotcakes. For this review I will smoke two cigars, the Churchill and the Box Pressed Toro.

The unique thing about the Puros de Hostos Commendador is that the tobacco is fermented four times, while usually tobacco is fermented twice and Habanos prides themselves for fermenting the Cohiba tobacco three times. Yet Gustavo de Hostos, who’s also a crooner, diplomat and businessman, wanted to ferment to tobacco four times before the cigars were made and so it is done. As a proud Dominican he wanted a Dominican puro, so all tobacco used is Dominican.

Puros de Hostos Comendador Churchill

I just love the look of a Churchill sized cigar, long and du to the length the cigars look thiner then they are. This one measures 7×48. The wrapper is a milk chocolate brown with hardly any vins, it looks thin and fragile but it isn’t. The rings are very busy with a lot of patterns in gold on a black label and the foot ring has the same, a nice golden lettering but the decorations make it information overload. The construction has the right amount of sponginess and a beautifully formed cap. The aroma is very mild and is a mixture of mild chocolate and mint.


Since it’s a Dominican puro I decided to cut the cigar with the xikar cutter from the procigar festival 2014, that came with the gift box. The cold draw is great, a perfect amount of resistance. I taste spicy raw tobacco and a hint of mint. After lighting I taste a mild acidic earthy flavor. Slowly the lime like acid gets a bit stronger, with the earthy flavor and some black pepper. After an inch the lime fades a bit and is replaced with a little bit of honey. After a third I taste a beautiful, well balanced, mixture of citrus, pepper, wood, earthiness with a hint of spices and if I snowed this cigar blind I wouldn’t have guessed it’s Dominican. The flavors grow in strength without losing the smoothness. The pepper turns to white pepper and is predominant. Suddenly the honey returns, with some fresh wood, dill and the white pepper. The final third starts with chocolate with wood, honey and pepper. Then the flavor gets nutty for a bit with a lime and pepper aftertaste. Near the end the cigar turns woody with a nice sweetness.


The draw is just perfect, nothing less. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume but it’s getting thicker and thicker along the way. The light gray ash is beautifully layered and quite firm, but it’s crooked though. The burn is pretty straight. I would call this cigar medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I want more, the flavor profile is unique.

Score: 91
number91

Puros de Hostos Comendador Box Pressed Toro

Now this cigar didn’t made it to the market in The Netherlands if I remember correctly, but I might be mistaken. Box pressed, some love it, some hate it and I am impartial to it as long as its a good cigar. This Puros de Hostos looks great, intimidating because of the length and ring gauge of 6 1/2×54 and the dark brown colored wrapper with a lot of oil. I see one vein on the left side of the cigar but that doesn’t make the cigar less of a looker. The construction feels good, well packed and most importantly, evenly packed. The ring is the same as the Churchill and the aroma is medium strong, its like standing in a hay stack.


Because of the 54 ring I opted to punch the cigar. The cold draw is a bit loose, I taste black pepper and raisin. After lighting I taste coffee and oak, with a little hint of pepper. After half an inch I taste spicy oak with cinnamon and a little sugar. After a third I taste lemon, oak, spices and a little white pepper. At the end I taste minty chocolate.


The draw is a bit on the loose side. The smoke is great, thick, white and a lot in volume. The ash is light gray and beautifully layered. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is full flavored and full bodied, yet smooth, complex and has depth. The smoke time is exactly two hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Del Los Reyes, Dominican cigars, Puros de Hostos | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oliva Master Blend 3 Torpedo

After the 2003 release of the Oliva Master Blend 1, the 2005 release of the Master Blend 2 Oliva released a third Master Blend, the Master Blend 3 in 2006. The company did not disclose how many cigars were released but next to the box releases in the robusto, torpedo and Churchill sizes they also released a sampler with those three vitolas and a 5×54 double robusto.


The cigars aren’t tattooed as explained in the Master Blend 2 review which I published yesterday. And in the last 11 years there has been no follow up to the Master Blend series, so we are still waiting for the Master Blend 4. The Master Blend series consisted of 3 vitolas, I smoked the Churchill for the Master Blend 1  review, the robusto for the Master Blend 2 review so lets go for the torpedo for this Master Blend 3 review, then I covered all vitolas and all releases


The sharp head of the cigar is what I notice first, combined with the box pressed with rounded corners it makes the cigar quite unique in shape. The ring is almost identical to the Master Blend 1 and 2, except for a little difference in color and a 3 of course. There is no mention of the number of released cigars though and the tattoo is missing. The construction feels good and the dark wrapper feels a leathery. The cigar has a strong aroma, it smells like walking through the woods early morning after a rainfall, wood, plants and animal droppings.


I cut the cigar. The perfect cold draw is spicy and peppery with sultanas. After lighting it with a soft flame I taste a nice smooth mixture of coffee, honey, cedar, cumin and lime. After an inch I taste cedar, nutmeg, pepper and lime. Halfway the pepper gets stronger with cedar. The final third starts with wood, a little pepper and a little lemon. Near the end I taste coffee again.


The draw is fine and the smoke is medium plus thick, medium plus in volume and beautifully white. The ash is dense and white but not too firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good cigar but I like the 1 and 2 better.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oliva Master Blend 2 Robusto

I explained the history on the Oliva Master Blend series in the review of the Master Blend 1 Churchill which I posted yesterday so I won’t repeat myself on the limited tobacco story. Where the Master Blend 1 was released in 2003, the Master Blend 2 came out in 2005. Where the Master Blend 1 saw a production of 375,000 cigars the Master Blend 2 is even more limited with 120,000 cigars, 2,000 boxes of each size.


Now I have a bundle of the private stock of the Oliva family, those are not tattooed but I also had a commercial released one with the tattoo. The tattoo is beautiful but Oliva stopped with tattooing the cigars because it caused at least a 10% damage rate in perfectly good cigars, costing a lot of money and wasting a lot of good tobacco.


The first difference I notice is the ring, its almost identical except it has a 2 right above the half circle cut out and the total production is on the side instead the back. The wrapper is more rustic, thick with veins and discolorations but the tattoo makes up for it. The construction is flawless, again the box pressed with rounded corners like in the Master Blend 1 review and a well placed cap. The aroma is strong, cocoa mixed with hay and straw, very nice.


I punched the cigar. The raisin flavored cold draw is fine. I lit this vintage cigar with a vintage lighter, soft flame. I taste coffee with sugar and lemon, the aftertaste is red pepper. After half an inch I taste earth with a little lemon and a faint of chocolate accompanied by a peppery aftertaste. After a third I taste earth with a little nutmeg, lime, salt and pepper. The flavors change to cedar, soil, chocolate, salt and pepper. The final third starts nutty with salt and a nice dose of pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper slowly grows and I taste a hint of mint too.


I found that the draw was close to perfect. The ash is light gray with thick layers. The ash is firm too. The smoke is medium thick, I would have liked a little more of it though. The burn is beautiful. The cigar has a slow but steady evolution, its complex and medium bodied while being medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish!

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Oliva Master Blend 1 Churchill

Tobacco growing companies often experiment with tobacco, new crops, hybrid tobaccos etcetera and sometimes with fantastic tobacco as a result but those tobaccos aren’t always suitable for further exploitation maybe because of a low yield or that they are prone to disease. Oliva is one of the companies that both grows and makes cigars and in 2000 they had crop of experimental tobacco. They decided to put a Habano wrapper around it and called it “Master Blend 1”, with a total limited production of 5,000 boxes in three sizes (robusto, torpedo and Churchill), so 15,000 in total and released it in 2003.


Now these cigars are nowhere to be found anymore but I have a friend at the factory and when she came over for a trip to Amsterdam I offered her my guest bedroom which she gladly accepted. As a gift she brought me a bundle of Master Blend 1 Churchills, Master Blend 2 Robusto and Special S Perfecto. She knew I wanted the Master Blends, I begged her for those both of the times I visited the factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Now the Master Blend 1 and 2 that were commercially released have a tattoo on the wrapper but the ones I got don’t have the tattoo, they were rolled and stored for personal use of the Oliva family.


The cigar has a nice colored habano wrapper, medium dark, silky with one vein but its been pressed before rolling so it doesn’t destroy the look of the cigar. The ring is gorgeous, burgundy red with golden details and letters, a green picture of tobacco fields and at the back is says the total production of 375,000 cigars. At the bottom of the ring there is a half circle cut out for the tattoo, that is missing on my specimen but I explained why. I love the shape of the cigar, its box pressed but with rounded edges, therefore it falls in between what you would expect with a box pressed cigar and a regular cigar shape. The construction feels great too, a bit hard but evenly packed with a nice placed cap. The smell is still strong after all these years and is a strong barnyard aroma.


I punched the cigar and the draw is a little tight, so I might have to cut it later. I taste hay and raisin. I lit the cigar with my soft flame. After lighting I taste raisin and floral flavors with a little pepper. After and inch I taste floral flavors with nutmeg, toast and white pepper. I also taste some walnut. Halfway I taste nuts, some chocolate, some mild pepper, cedar. The age took care of any harshness, this cigar is so smooth without becoming dull. The final third is a smooth nut with a little bit of white pepper and a hint of nutmeg. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is thick, white and full in volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is smooth, complex and if I had smoked this blind I would have known that it is a vintage cigar. I would call it medium bodied and medium to medium full flavored but very smooth. The smoking time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish. Maybe I can bribe my friend at the factory with some stroopwafels.

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Maduro Sublime

On July 22nd of 2007 Jerry Cruz from the famous Stogiereview website had a son, JJhis little robusto as he called him, but only three and a half months later tragedy hit and little JJ passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The first cigar Jerry smoked after little JJ was born was the Don Pepin Garcia series JJ and for the first few years stogiereview had a “Smoke a JJ for JJ” day on july 22nd. I don’t know if that still takes place, but I felt I had to smoke and review this cigar on JJ’s 10th birthday even though I have never met Jerry, we are still part of a community and I hope he finds comfort in the knowledge that little JJ is not forgotten. Jerry, brother, this is for you and your wife.


I had this cigar in my humidor for years, so it is aged and depending on your definition of vintage it might even qualify for that. The cigar is made by My Father cigars ofcourse, and it is a Nicaraguan puro, with a Nicaraguan maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo filler and a Nicaraguan binder. The JJ comes from José and Jaime, the father & son team from My Father, José ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and his son Jaime. By the time this cigar was released it was the first maduro wrapped cigar under their own name and still, up to today, the Garcia family doesn’t use a lot of maduro wrappers for their own production, the only other line I can think of is the Flor de Las Antillas Maduro but correct me if I’m wrong. They do use and have used maduro wrappers on cigars they produce for other companies though.


Once I take the cigar out of the cellophane, that started to discolor, I see a beautiful dark wrapper with lots of tooth, that makes it feel like leather and a sparkle from the minerals. The wrapper is gorgeous, nothing more nothing less. The same goes for the rings, instead of full white as My Father used for the regular JJ series, the maduro series uses the same rings but then in beige. Like I said, this cigar has been aged so it has the older rings. The bottom ring is small and just says “Series JJ Maduro” in beautiful golden letters on a beige ring with a thin red line and golden dots as decoration. The other ring is curved, it has a beautiful curly font saying Don Pepin Garcia with golden and red decorations around it. On one site there is a small image of the Cuban flag and a Cuban shield while the other side has the American flag and the statue of liberty. Behind that there is a decorative figure with the letters DPG that remind me of Pete Johnson’s logo after he learned he couldn’t use the Flor de Lis no more. The print quality of the rings is immaculate too. The cigar feels quite hard, but that doesn’t have to be an issue and the triple cap is nicely done. As for the aroma, as a teenager my little sister was having horse riding classes and sometimes I had to pick her up from the stables, the aroma of the cigar reminds me of those stables and it is medium strong.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is great and tastes like a mix of raisin, milk chocolate, pepper and lemon. As usual I used a soft flame to light the cigar and I taste a mellow coffee with a little lemon. After just a few puffs I also taste some leather and slowly the coffee disappears. After an inch it’s all leather with some lemon and added pepper. After a third the pepper gets stronger while the lemon turns to lime. Halfway the leather gets weaker while cedar shows up, the lime and continuously growing pepper are still there too. Halfway the leather replaces the cedar again, although the cedar lingers around in the aftertaste. After two thirds it’s leather with pepper, a hint of vanilla and a minty aftertaste. The final few puffs gave me nuts.


The smoke is medium thick. The ash is white, dense and firm. Even in the ash you can see some sparkles of the minerals. The draw is excellent. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is medium full bodied and equally flavored, there is a good balance between flavor and body and enough evolution. The smoke time is little over an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m glad I still have a full box of these puppies.

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, Don Pepin Garcia, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Te-Amo World Selection Series Robusto

A few years ago, while working for a Dutch cigar distributor, we released the Te Amo World Selection series in the robusto size on the Dutch market, dirt cheap premium cigars (premium as in hand made longfiller cigars).. They came in 5 different blends, a Cuban, Dominican, Honduran, Mexican and Nicaraguan blend, all with some tobacco from that country except for the Cuban blend, they used some Cuban seed tobacco for that. Boxes of 15 cigars and we mixed them up at our office so customers could get 3 cigars of each blend.  A box came at 33 euro, making the cigars €2,20 each. And they sold like hot cakes until Turrent decided to raise the price by 40%, that killed the line and caused my (by then ex) employer to say goodbye to all Turrent products. I will be reviewing all 5 blends in one big review, in alphabetical order

Te-Amo World Selection Series Cuba Blend Robusto

 

Cuba, the birth place of the modern day cigar industry and once by far the best cigar producing country in the world. But that changed when Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries gained power and nationalized everything. A lot of knowledge fled the country and started making cigars in the Dominican Republic, Canary Island, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the USA. Without the revolution the cigar industry wouldn’t be as big there as it is today, but also the condition of the Cuban cigars would be much higher as then there would be competition so companies would push each other to great heights instead of a decline you see nowadays in the quality of the construction, the quality of the tobacco, the lack of rest, the under fermentation and mono culture. Cuban cigars are no longer the best in the world and haven’t been for a decade, which is a shame as the Cuban soil is unique when properly taken care off. But this cigar doesn’t contain Cuban tobacco, only Cuban seed but grown in Mexico.


The wrapper looks dry, feels silky and it would have been more aesthetically pleasing is the veins were rolled before applying the wrapper. The ring is nice, it looks like two rings but it is one, one regular ring in beige with the Te Amo logo in red and a brown outline to it with some text in white and then what should look as a ring underneath in yellow with vertical red stripes and the letters Cuba Blend. The construction feels and looks good, no complaints there. The aroma is quite strong, hay, barnyard and wet autumn leaves come to mind while smelling the cigar.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw, with a mild dry vanilla and raisin flavor, is fine. After lighting I taste a mild harsh and musty coffee and dirt flavor. After half an inch the harshness grows in strength with musty cedar and spices. Halfway I taste vanilla and nuts but still a butt harsh, very unrefined and unbalanced. Near the end I taste pepper too.


The draw is fine. The smoke is white, thick and good in volume. The ash is almost white and quite firm. The burn has some issues but corrects itself. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is very short with forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It is safe to say the answer to that question is NO.

Score: 79
number79


Te-Amo World Selection Series Dominican Blend Robusto


This is the one I fear most, because of the Connecticut Shade wrapper in combination with the price, I mean, you can’t expect a top shelve product for this price and then with my least favorite wrapper, that’s a combination that won’t make me jump up of excitement on forehand. The filler is Dominican.


Oh boy, that wrapper, even though its quite dark for a Connecticut Shade it is butt ugly. Big fat dry veins and a very dry touch. The ring is the same as from the Cuba blend but with the same beige on the bottom where it says Dominicana blend as on the rest of the ring, where the Cuba blend had a dark yellow band. The construction feels good, the right amount of elasticity and a nice rounded head of the cigar. The aroma is quite strong and very ammonia or urine like.


I punched the cigar and cold draw great, I taste a mild musty and very faint chocolate with raw tobacco. After lighting, with a xikar jet flame this time, I taste a sweet, musty and peppery wood. A quarter of an inch in I taste a harsh nutmeg and herbs with a hint of chocolate. After a third I taste a harsh, musty, peppery walnut flavor that is not very nice. The final third is very peppery, chili pepper with cayenne.


The draw is fine, nothing to complain about. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is off though, uneven and after an inch I notice a burn spot halfway the cigar so there is a tunnel burn. The ash is dark, layered and ugly but still firm. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is relatively short with just an hour, the tunnel burn has got to do with it.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, not a chance.

Score: 76

number76

Te-Amo World Selection Series Honduras Blend Robusto


The Te Amo World Selection Series Honduras Blend is made of Honduran filler, a Mexican binder and a Honduran Wrapper. Like all others the cigar measures 5×54. If I would have had to make a prediction in which order I would rate the cigars before smoking them, this would probably be my number two, behind the Nicaragua blend. But let’s see how the list turns out after I reviewed all five of them.


The wrapper isn’t the prettiest wrapper I have seen to put it mildly, rough, big vein but a nice deep brown with even darker smears. The construction feels good, evenly packed, just the right amount of sponginess and a all rounded head. The ring is just like the others but with a brown backing color for the text Honduras blend. The aroma is quite strong and is a acidic stable, like a urine drenched hay floor after the cows went outside for the day.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect and I taste raisin and wood. After lighting I taste nutmeg, oak and a little pepper. After half an inch I taste dull oak, very muted, with a little pepper. After a third the cigar gets a bit of a nasty flavor, kind of like a dry vomit flavor but thankfully that flavor changes quick to a mild harsh oak and a faint cocoa powder. The final third starts out with a full blown pepper, good flavor.


The smoke is thin and low in volume. The draw is good though. The ash is light colored and dense, but flaky. The burn is okay, not good and not bad. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If the middle part wouldn’t be so disappointing I would. The finish is really strong and good.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Te-Amo World Selection Series Mexico Blend Robusto


This cigar is made competely with Mexican Criollo 98 tobacco according to the Te Amo website, and all from the San Andres region according to other sources online so I’m going with that. It’s been years since I smoked these cigars and in my memory this is the one I liked most even though my experience with Mexican puros isn’t that good, so I am wondering if my memory might be wrong. Only one way to find out……


The wrapper is dark and rustic, it could pass for a Brazilian wrapper with the thick veins and the dark yet dry looking wrapper. The cigar looks mean and tough. The ring is simple, the same as the other rings but this time with a green bottom part saying Mexico Blend in white letters. The construction feels good, the cigar is a bit hard but evenly hard with a nice rounded head. The aroma is mild to medium strong and is a bit of a musty barnyard aroma.


I punched the cigar and the draw is loose, very easy. I taste raw tobacco and hay. The first thing I notice while lighting the cigar is the unpleasant smell. The first puff is a coffee flavor but not very refined with some sweetness. The sweetness is getting strong after a few puffs, it’s confectioners sugar. After a third I taste a harsh sweetness with nutmeg and pepper. Without the harshness it would be really nice. The harshness disappears halfway, I taste wood, nutmeg, honey and pepper.


The draw is easy but the smoke is thick and full. The ash is a little coarse, but light colored and beautifully layered. The burn is good. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, with a decent evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? As a cheap yardgar yes.

Score: 85
number85

Te-Amo World Selection Series Nicaraguan Blend Robusto

Nicaragua, my favorite cigar country, most of the cigars that I like are coming from Esteli and I visited the town twice so far. Not that I dislike cigars from other countries, just look at the Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius from Miami or the Balmoral Anejo Lancero from the Dominican that both scored high this year, but if there is one country that has more hits in my book than any other, it’s Nicaragua. So the expectations are high, higher than the other blends. The cigar is made with a Corojo wrapper from an undisclosed country, a Mexican binder and Nicaraguan filler.


The wrapper isn’t a looker, its not bad either but just a dry, medium brown wrapper with a few thin veins. The ring is equal to the others but I have to say, the red used to recognize the Nicaragua blend from the others is the best looking color of the whole series. The cigar feels hard but evenly packed everywhere. The aroma is strong, but not the nicest smell I ever smelled, like the toilet of a mall after hours.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a bit tight so I decided to cut instead. The cold draw is peppery with some raisin. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste chocolate with toast. After a quarter of an inch I taste wood and spices, but not the best I ever tasted. After a third I taste an ashy, salty flavor with some musty wood and a hefty dose of pepper. Halfway I taste mostly pepper with some wood. The pepper is getting stronger and stronger.


Due to the cut the draw is good. The burn is pretty straight. The ash is pepper and salt colored with nice layers and pretty firm. The smoke is too thin to my liking. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? As a cheap BBQ cigar, why not?

Score: 86
number86

Categories: 76, 79, 80, 85, 86, Mexican cigars, Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos, Te Amo | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak/Seljak

For those of you that read my reviews regularly it is not a shocking confession if I say that I love Jas Sum Kral. The Red Knight, Maduro, Zlatno Sonce and Crna Nok all got 90+ ratings and today it’s time for another JSK  cigar, the limited edition Da Cebak or Seljak as the USA spelling is. This cigar is different than the others, not only by blend, size and packaging but also by factory. Unlike the Red Night, Maduro, Zlatno Sonce, Crna Nok and the shaggy foots that sometimes pop up, which I haven’t had the chance to get my hands on for a review, this Da Cebak isn’t made at Tabacalera NOA in Esteli but somewhere else, at a factory that brand owner Riste Riatevski wouldn’t disclose to me.

 


As I said above, the size is different than any other Jas Sum Kral as this is an A sized cigar. For Jas Sum Kral that means 9 1/4 inch long and a ring gauge of 48. I like those sizes. I know, I said many times that I love the lancero, corona and lonsdale like classic sizes and this cigar is thicker than all those vitolas but the length is also bigger and therefore the vitola looks so majestic, the length vs the thickness is perfect, just like with the lonsdale and lancero. To me an A sized cigar is a lancero on steriods. The packaging is also sweet, a coffin of two cigars, nothing new as Drew Estate does that too but the laquered box with nothing than de name in a beautiful font and the size on one side is simple yet pretty. And the cedar shavings inside the box, to help the cigars blend with the cedar smell during aging, is a nice touch.

 


I open the packaging and take one of the cigars out and the first thing I notice is that Riste doesn’t stray away from the pig tails and the closed foot even though these are made in a different factory. The closed foot is a bit different though, much more pressed than the ones from Tabacalera NOA. Another difference is the ring, not the beautiful Jas Sum Kral ring designed by Nuzli Hakiim but more of a home made ring combined of some classic Macedonian stereotype pictures printed on a simple laserjet in Riste’s basement. Now for this extremely limited run for some insiders, that was only sold on the Jas Sum Kral website that’s ok, if this was a more commercial release I wouldn’t go with this ring, and I bet Riste wouldn’t do that either. But I take the rest of the packaging into consideration too, so the cigar doesn’t lose too much on this part. The wrapper is mild oily, only has two minor veins and on a cigar this long that’s good. The construction feels good. The smell is a little bit sweet, vanilla like but it could be that the aroma is mild and that the vanilla scented soap I used an hour ago is overpowering the cigar.

 


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is tight but I think that’s because of the tightly closed door. The flavor is quite spicy and peppery. Lighting the cigar is easy with my soft flame and my conclusion that the tight cold draw was caused by the closed foot was right. I taste leather, coffee and an earthy flavor, very Cubanesque but a little stronger. After half an inch it’s mainly leather with a tiny hint of dark chocolate. Little over an inch it’s still mainly leather but now with a little lime freshness and some dark chocolate. A little later I also taste a little vanilla too. Slowly a little pepper shows up too. After a third it’s leather with vanilla and a little pepper, this reminds me of the Cubans I smoked when I just started smoking and the Cuban quality was much higher than nowadays. The vanilla gains some strength and it’s a perfect match to the dry leather. Halfway the sweetness and the vanilla flavors are stronger than the leather and it reminds me of puffed rice candy I had as a kid, very tasty. A little later I also taste a little nuts and the pepper returns too, black pepper. After two thirds I taste vanilla cake with cedar, a little nuts and pepper. The cigar gets stronger, spicier but the vanilla still makes it a very easy smokable cigar. Near the end I taste a minty aftertaste too.

 


The smoke is medium thick at the start and gets thicker along the way. The draw is amazing, especially for a cigar this long. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is razor sharp from start to finish. The cigar is very subtle and complex. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is two hours and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish! I hope Riste does another batch of these and possibly in a smaller size so it doesn’t take a special occasion and a lot of time to smoke it.

Score: 94
number94

 

 

Categories: 94, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Undisclosed | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Illusione ~HL~ Maduro

After releasing the Illusione ~HL~ natural Dion Giolito, owner of the brand, had some empty boxes left over and instead of letting them go to waste he decided to create the same vitola in the candela and maduro blends he already made for other vitolas of Illusione. As a certified lancero whore I’m not complaining about this decision.


Like the other lanceros from Illusione, this one is made at Raices Cubanas in Honduras too. So it classifies as a Honduran cigar even though the wrapper is from Mexico and the filler and binder are Nicaraguan, no Honduran tobacco is used for this 7 1/2×40 elegant cigar. The Mexican San Adres wrapper is stalk cut, a technique where not the individual leaves are picked but the whole plant is cut down and hung to dry upside down.


The wrapper has a mild oily shine to it and is beautifully dark, like a thin chocolate bar. Unfortunately the cigar wasn’t wrapped in cellophane and that caused a little damage at the foot. The tiny pigtail is a nice detail. The construction feels great. The cigar has a mild floral aroma. The ring is identical to the regular Illusione ~HL~ ring but only in a different color, brown with golden letters and black outlines instead of white with golden letters and golden outlines.


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is great. I taste a little pepper and a little citrus before lighting the cigar. After lighting with a soft flame I taste coffee. Soon I also taste chocolate. After a centimeter I taste spices with cedar and a little pepper. I also taste a tiny bit of chocolate sweetness. After a third I taste cedar with some spices and a little white pepper in the back of my mouth. Slowly a chocolate flavor returns. The flavors then change to toast with pepper and citrus. The flavors don’t change much anymore but become stronger and only some citrus shows up. Especially the pepper grows in strength.


The draw is just fine, no complaints at all. The smoke is thick and plentiful. The ash is fragile and light colored. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied yet full of flavor. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like this one the best from the three blends and all three are worthy of another purchase.

Score: 92
92

Categories: 92, Honduran cigars, Illusione, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Ilja VIII

For the last few months I’ve been posting my reviews every wednesday, sunday and 15h of the month plus on april 17, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my blog. So today shouldn’t be a review day but I decided to review a special cigar, the Ilja VIII. Now those of you that don’t know the story behind the Ilja cigars, it is a sad story. Ilja van Horssen was a third generation tobacco wholesaler, his grandfather started a wholesale company in dry cigars and roll your own tobacco, his father build the company further up and Ilja and his younger brother Sasja started working for the Van Horssen BV company too. About 20 years ago they saw the future of the cigars in The Netherlands and decided to start a new source of income for the company: premium longfiller cigars from the Caribbean. So they started ‘Longfiller Company’ under the J. van Horssen BV umbrella. A few years later Ilja left the company to start his own retail store, Cuesta Rey, in The Hague and also bought the famous Dutch Brand G. de Graaff and the shop with the same name. Ilja created a huge reputation for himself because he was able to find many hard to get cigars that even his brother Sasja, as the official distributer for those brands like Fuente and Padron, couldn’t even get his hands on. Sounds like a success story right? Here’s the downer, Ilja got sick and died way too young at age 36 on july 14 2006, leaving two young children and his wife behind. His widow ran the shop for a number of years before she turned into the first La Casa del Habano in The Netherlands, the LCDH The Hague.


To commemorate his brother Sasja decided to release a hard to find cigar every year, 36 boxes as Ilja only made it till 36, and the proceedings would go to charity. After a few years the concept changed a little, the cigars are now released on a special event, invitation only and you can only buy one of the boxes if you’re invited to that event by Sasja personally, the proceedings still go to charity though, to Pronica. Now I’m not part of the family, but I’ve worked close with the family for some years and was even involved with some of the Ilja cigars, like the Ilja VI (Liga Privada A), this Ilja VIII and the Ilja IV. If you’re afraid that I’m bias because of this, don’t worry, I wasn’t involved in the blending process, I only asked the manufacturers what they could do for the Ilja cigar and picked sizes. When I was in Nicaragua early 2014 I had a meeting with Rosa Vilchez, our contact within My Father Cigars, and I asked her if My Father Cigars could do something for the next Ilja. She called Jaime, who was in Miami at the time and immediately they agreed, they were actually honored to be asked and came up with a new blend and in an 9 1/4×48 A size like I requested. The cigars are all bunched and rolled by Jaime and his father Don Pepin self. I wanted to review this cigar for a while and what date is more suitable to post than the 14th of july, the day Ilja moved on. If you want a full list on the Ilja releases, check out Halfwheel (and add a Joya de Nicaragua twist on the cuatro cinco blend to the list as Ilja IV).


The cigar has a dark chocolate color with beautiful small veins and a triple cap, just the looks of the wrapper makes my saliva work. The wrapper feels leathery and the cigar has a strong barnyard aroma with a little acidity and ammonia even though it’s 2 years old. The construction feels good and the band, what can I say? The ring is so personal for the family, the picture of Ilja, the quality of the printing is great, and I mean, I know the family so well, I know how much this ring means to them, how hard it was for Sasja to do see the rings roll of the press the first time and color proof it, I can only give it the full amount of points available in my rating system. The cold draw is great and I taste raisin in the front of my mouth and spices in the back of my throat.


The first flavor I get is a nice sweetened coffee and I smell a nice pepper without breaking out in a sneeze. I also taste some honey and some vanilla. After a centimeter I taste chocolate, dark chocolate like I’m sucking on a small piece and the flavor is sticking to the top of my throat. After an inch I still taste the chocolate but now with cedar and a little bit of chili. Slowly the flavors change to a charred woody barbecue flavor with a hint of lime but still with a little bit of chocolate although is fading away.

After a third the chocolate is back, a bit sweeter this time and with some spicy toast on the back. The overall feeling of the flavors is meaty. There is also still a lime flavor, slowly that acidity grows a little bit. The flavors are now creamy, like ice cream with a hint of vanilla and some chocolate. The aftertaste is still a bit barbecue like. The spicy barbecue flavor is the main flavor after I reach the halfway point but I taste a nice honey and chocolate flavor every time i take a sip of water and over the duration of this cigar I almost drank a liter of water. After two thirds I get a lot more pepper with a smoky flavor soon to be accompanied by a raspberry vinegar. I’m still having that tasting chocolate after water experience. Near the end i also taste spices and herbs with an oaky aftertaste. The last few puffs give me salted nuts, macadamia and hazelnut with a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is great, the smoke is cool due to the length of the cigar. The smoke starts out relatively thin, but beautifully blue white and decent amount. The smoke slowly gets thicker. The ash is light colored and firm. The burn is straight as a line. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. It’s a long smoke but it never gets boring. The cigar lasted me 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Unfortunately that’s no longer possible but I know Sasja has plans to release this blend in a robusto and gordo size in the near future.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, My Father, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Lars Tetens Steampunk Toro

Infused cigars, I have reviewed a few because a friend, who sadly passed away a few months ago at the early age of 55, send a few as a joke, but I hate them. I mean, why would you mess up beautiful tobacco? My guess is that the infused cigars use low quality tobacco and mask the taste with chemical enhanced flavors. I mean, you don’t see beautiful single malt whisky being infused right, only low grade industrial made vodka or low grade white rum get that kind of treatment and in my opinion its the same with tobacco. Either smoke the good stuff or don’t smoke at all but leave the chemically ‘enriched’ crap alone, that stuff is bad and gives traditional cigars a bad reptutation, attracks minors to try cigars and therefore causes politicians and FDA to screw with our hobby. Infused cigars are the bridge between cigarettes and cigars and there shouldn’t be a bridge, there should be a lot of distance between those two.


Now, years ago I wrote a horrible review on the Lars Tetens Gorillafinger and a few months ago I was approached by Josh Allison from Lions of Luxury who asked me if I was willing to review some other Lars Tetens cigars. I agreed and he send me the traditional Greenwich torpedo and the infused Steampunk toro. Infused you say? Yes! Did I jump from joy, exited to try another infused cigar by Lars Tetens? No! But at least this isn’t a fruit flavored, tropical or vanilla infused cigar, actually, it doesn’t even say what it’s infused with and that by itself is a little intriguing. So I’m writing this review with an open mind and I really hope that this is the first infused cigar that I will like. And if you’re curious about this cigar, surf to urbanluxlife.com and order, use ja10 for a 10% discount, but please keep in mind: if you’re not in the USA and it’s not legal to order online/import tobacco, don’t do it, I am not responsible if you willingly break the law.


The first thing I did when I released this 6×50 toro from the cellophane is smell the cigar, as the infused thing made me curious on what the smell might be, and I didn’t even had to smell up close, as soon as the cello was removed I smelled an aroma that was a mixture of fruity white wine, apple and stale beer. The aroma is strong but I don’t like it much and the cigar loses points on that (read [this] on what I rate on). The construction feels good though and the cap is nicely placed. The Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper looks very tasty, beautifull dark wrapper with thin veins, a nice oily glow and a leathery touch. The cigar has two rings, the top ring is a beautiful dark metallic ring with metallic red outlines and a dragon and golden letters on beautiful paper but the 2 inch big foot ring is multi colored on a much lower grade paper and looks like a elementary school project. If the footband was as beautiful as the top ring I would have rated it higher, this is another quarter of a point lost so even before lighting this cigar already faces a lower score, the smell and the foot ring already cost a full point of the final result.


When I wet the cap to punch it I taste a mild tangerine sweetness. The cold draw is fine and I taste a mild fruity and peppery flavor, but the fruit isn’t a terrible chemical flavor though. I lit the cigar carefully with a soft flame and I taste a metallic flavor, wood and a hint of tangerine. I also taste some pepper. After an inch I taste the pepper with some wood and some creamy berry flavor, like ice cream. Soon after I taste nutmeg with cedar and pepper. I like the creaminess of the cigar, a mixture of butter and ice cream and after a third it’s clearly a peppery blackberry flavor that I only tasted in the original release of the Don Pepin Garcia Black Robusto. Halfway I taste a mild freshness in the aftertaste and the main flavor is now a spice mix with the blackberry flavor as support. There’s also some pepper. Some time later I taste something that reminds me most of paprika potato chips with pepper, cedar and that blackberry ice cream in the aftertaste. Slowly the pepper gets stronger with the berry as aftertaste.


The smoke is thick, white and full. The draw is perfect, the right resistance. The ash is gray and firm with a perfect burn. This medium bodied cigar is complex and without the smell and the mild tangerine and berry flavor it could pass for a traditional cigar. The cigar has plenty of flavor and an hour and a half smoke time.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, much to my surprise I really liked this cigar.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, American cigars, Lars Tetens, Lars Tetens Factory | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.