Alec Bradley Tempus Naturel Terra Nova

Now Alec Bradley was one of those brands that for me was always ‘middle of the road’, never had any issues, they were all oke, none were unlikeable but also non wowed me. That was until George Sosa gave me a Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova on one of our trips through The Netherlands, where I worked for the distributer of Alec Bradley and some other brands. The Tempus Nicaragua and the Mundial stood out for me, but it made me sit down and really focus on some Alec Bradley cigars and that made me realize the Black Market is better than I had in mind. Now I’m going to focus on the Alec Bradley Tempus Natural Terra Nova.


Now the Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua is a Honduran cigar because it’s made at Raices Cubanas, just like the Alec Bradley Tempus Natural. The Terra Nova is a 5×50 robusto and the blend consists from Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, a Honduran binder and also a Honduran wrapper. All the other vitolas have names coming from latin, like Centuria, Magnus & Magistri amongst others. Now my latin is non excisting so I couldn’t tell you more about it if my life depended on it.


Back to the cigar itself, once I release it from its cellophane jacket I see a quite dark wrapper with some veins and a shine from the natural oils in the leaf. The construction feels good and the triple cap is very beautifully placed. The cigar has a strong aroma of manure but without ammonia and charcoal. The ring is gorgeous. I will start with the small ring at the foot, its brown with golden outlines, small golden dots and white letters saying Natural. Then the real ring, its big, flashy with lots of gold, silver, a brown banner with white letters saying Alec Bradley and right in the centre the red oval with the AB letters in white. The quality of the print is amazing.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is on the tight side of good and I taste metallic raisins with a hint of pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste coffee with a caramel like sweetness. Half an inch in I taste chocolate, sweet tasty chocolate. After a third the cigar gets some spices, a woody flavor with a pepper aftertaste. The caramel is still around too. Halfway I taste lemon with some nuts, the pepper is getting stronger and slowly the chocolate returns.


The draw is good, the smoke is medium thick and in volume but it’s getting better along the way. Unfortunately the burn is crooked. The ash is dark gray, layered and firm. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes, shorter than usual for a robusto but I think that has to do with the corrections I had to make on the burn.

Would I buy this cigar again? I will stick with the Nicaragua

Score: 90
90

Advertisements
Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas

Mbombay Vintage Reserve Salomon

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


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


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


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


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

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

Score: 91
number91

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

Punch LE 2013

I have a lot of people on facebook and one of them, Victor King, I had never met before but when he came to Amsterdam I met up with him and Nasier, from tabaccoshop Van Lookeren to hit a few lounges in the city. When Victor walked in he handed me a Punch Limited Edition from 2013 and he said it was a great cigar. Me, not a big fan of Cubans, decided to accept it and save it for a review. Here’s my review.


The 2013 Edicion Limitada was called Serie D’Oro #2 and it’s a 5 1/2 x 52 Pyramid. It was the first limited edition for the Punch brand, in 2017 a new limited edition was supposed to be released but by the time I was writing the intro to this review (mid january 2018) those cigars weren’t released yet according to the Cuban Cigar Website, so for now I can say the Serie D’Oro #2 is the only Limited Edition of the brand that has been released so far.


The wrapper is quite dark, leathery and veiny. The cigar feels well constructed, I don’t feel soft spots or plugs. And the rings are nice, the regular red & golden Punch ring and the regular golden & black ‘Edicion limitada” secondary ring. The mild aroma is classic Cuban, barnyard and cow dung.


I cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, quite spicy for a Cuban cigar. After lighting I taste a citrus coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste soil, coffee, a little spice and some citrus. Halfway I taste cedar with a little spice and pepper, a little nutmeg too. I also taste a little nutty flavor. The final third is peppery, woody with a floral sweetness.


The draw is flawless. The ash is almost white with a few darker smears. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, the color is white. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Depending on the price I might want a fiver.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Cuban cigars, Punch (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Espinosa Maduro Corona Gorda

Erik Espinosa doesn’t come from a long line of cigar makers, in fact, he started his career as a UPS driver bringing deliveries to cigar shops, thats when he got introduced to cigars. That led to working in a cigar shop, which led to owning a brand with Eddie Ortega and when they decide to part ways he started his own factory, La Zona, in Esteli. A factory that is now quite renowned and makes a few high rated, well received blends, not just for his own company but also for others like Moya Ruiz, Cornelius & Anthony and La Sirena. And I’ve had the pleasure to sit on the deck of the factory with cuban style coffee and a nice Hector Alfonso blended cigar, I wouldn’t mind doing that every day. Oh and Happy Birthday Hector!!


The Espinosa Maduro is one of the lines that Espinosa makes for his own cigar company, the name is a clear sign of that, but he also produces 601, Murcielago and the award winning Laranja for Espinosa Cigars. The line consists of four vitolas, three of them are box pressed (the robusto, toro & belicoso) while the 5 5/8 x46 Corona Gorda is round and has a pig tail. I’m smoking that particular cigar for a review today.


The Mexican maduro wrapper is very dark and leathery with a few veins, it’s not the best looking wrapper but for some reason I like it, the color and the texture just match up perfectly. The rings are gorgeous, beige with golden outlines, a red dot with the Espinosa logo and a light blue banner with the Espinosa name in red letters, and a smaller banner saying ‘hecho en la zona’ and then a deep blue detail. The foot ring brings back the deep blue with a golden edging and the same letters as the Espinosa name but now saying Maduro. The cigar looks a little crooked but the construction feels great and the triple cap with pig tail is placed perfectly. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of cocoa, I live in an area with several cocoa factories so I know that smell all too well. I also smell a bit barnyard too.


I cut the cigar with my xikar guillotine. The cold draw is fine, I taste raisin and dark, creamy chocolate with some pepper. After lichting the cigar I taste coffee and dark chocolate with a hint of white pepper. After half an inch I taste dry grass with cedar and pepper. After an inch I taste oak with some rucola. The second third starts peppery with some fresh wood on the background. Halfway I also taste a little lime. Right before the final third I get a mild cocoa with a little mint and a strong yet balanced pepper. The final third starts meaty with some pepper. I taste some sweetness and it’s perfectly balanced with some acidity and pepper. Slowly some dark chocolate and cocoa shows up with some white pepper.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is thick and white. The ash is white too and very dense. The burn is straight and slow. This cigar is full flavored, medium to full bodied. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope they get introduced to the Dutch market soon.

Score: 93

Categories: 93, Espinosa, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Don Pepin Garcia Original Toro

The final review of the My Father Selection Toro sampler is the Don Pepin Garcia Original aka the Don Pepin Garcia Blue series, on of the first or maybe even the first release under the Don Pepin name. Back then the Nicaraguan puro was made at the El Rey de Los Habanos factory in Miami’s Calle Ocho but nowadays the cigar is produced in Esteli, Nicaragua.


Although the blend, hundred procent Nicaraguan tobacco with a Corojo Oscuro wrapper, hasn’t changed, the rings did get an upgrade once of twice just like the related Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic/Black, which was my first ever Don Pepin cigar and I’ve loved the brand since. And I’m not the only one, since this cigar has been available for over a decade, scored 93 in Cigar Aficionado and reached the top25 in 2008 plus the Garcia family won that Top 25 list in both 2012 with the Flor de Las Antillas and 2015 with the My Father Le Bijou. With that under their belt, plus many more entries for their own brands but also for other My Father made brands like Tatuaje, La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal you can say that My Father Cigars equals quality.


The wrapper is a dark mocha color, its smooth and oily with no dominant veins. The foot of the cigar is protected by a piece of blue cloth and the cigar has two rings. The main ring is exactly like the Cuban Classic and the Series JJ, except where the Cuban Classic is black and the JJ is white, this one is blue. So a blue oval with golden curly letters saying Don Pepin Garcia and references to Nicaragua, Cuba and America on the sides. Then there is a secondary ring, blue with golden letters saying Original. The cigar feels and looks good, nicely finished, no soft spots. And the aroma reminds me of hay and those stock cubes you can use for soups, medium strong.


I used my xikar cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is flawless and I feel the pepper burn on my lips. After lighting I taste spicy and strong coffee. There is also a metallic freshness. The cigar is spicy, peppery and woody. After half an inch I taste cedar with a lot of pepper. After a third I taste some citrus acidity and some nutmeg with the cedar and the strong pepper. Halfway the pepper is less strong and the cigar is better balanced. I also taste a bit of chocolate milk. The chocolate milk disappears and the pepper grows stronger again.


The draw is great. The smoke is thick, full and voluminous. The ash is white. The burn is beautiful. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored with a smoke time of an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I smoked my first Don Pepin Blue a decade ago and I will keep smoking them.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, Don Pepin Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro

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


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


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


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


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

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

Score: 91
number91

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

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Toro

As part of the My Father Toro Selection I’m smoking the Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Toro and I timed the review on this date, July 22nd for the exact same reason as last year. I’m doing it for Jerry Cruz, on the birthday of his son, JJ, that would have been 11 today if he didn’t tragically pass away from sudden infant death syndrome after just three and a half months old.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, made with Nicaraguan filler and a Criollo binder and wrapper from Corojo tobaccos. The cigar was blended by Jose ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia and his son Jaime together and that’s where the JJ comes from. This was actually the first blend that was released under the Don Pepin name. In 2011 My Father actually released a limited edition of this blend in a Short Robusto size in honor of Jerry’s son who he nicknamed ‘Little Robusto” and the proceeds went to charity, 300 boxes were made and even though I wish I could do a review on that specific cigar I don’t think I’ll be able to get my hands on it.


The wrapper is latte colored and a little wrinkled, with a vein on the front bottom half. The rings are nice, white with white gold lettering, on the side it shows details of America, Cuba and Nicaragua and the secondary ring is in the same style, saying series JJ. The construction feels good with a nice triple cap. The foot of the cigar is protected with a little piece of cloth. The aroma is strong, a little acidic stable aroma, animals, hay and cow urine.


The cold draw after the cut is great and it’s flavorful, pepper, sweetness, a little lime and raisins. After lighting I taste a tangy blackberry flavor. After a few puffs I also taste a little cinnamon. After half a centimeter I taste the cinnamon and blackberry, dry and subtle. I remember this cigar to be much bolder, but a few years of rest mellowed the cigar out and I like it. After an inch I taste wood, a little spice and still that blackberry. Slowly I taste a subtle pepper too. Near the end the blackberry flavor returns with a lot of pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and full. The light gray ash is a bit coarse. The burn is good. The cigar is subtle, smooth and flavorful. Medium bodied and flavored.  The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m getting a box just to age them.

Score: 93
number93

Categories: 93, Don Pepin Garcia, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Centurion Toro

This is the second cigar that I’m smoking from the My Father Selection 5 Toros, after the first La Antiguedad Toro which I published yesterday. El Centurion has a beautiful history, released as a limited edition of 850 boxes in three sizes at the trade show in 2007 the cigar became legendary in the American cigar society, it then returned as an event only cigar and I got to smoke one when I did an interview with Jaime and Janny in Miami back in 2009 but in 2013 the cigar was finally released as a regular production cigar.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with Criollo, Corojo Habano & Sancti Spiritus tobacco as filler and a Sun Grown Criollo 98 tobacco as a wrapper. The cigar measures 6 1/4 x52 and as I said yesterday, it comes from a My Father sampler with 4 other My Father blends in toro size. The blend is made by José “Don Pepin” who said it reminded him of old style Cohiba cigars.


I love the look of the wrapper, dark, toothy like sandpaper, thin veins. The ring is beautiful, high quality paintwork with different shades of yellow, red lettering and golden details. The construction feels good and the medium strong aroma is quite herbal with some charred wood.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw, which tastes spicy with some sweetness, is great. I taste coffee. After a quarter of an inch I taste oak with pepper. There’s also a mild milk chocolate flavor taste. After a third I taste oak, pepper, pepper and some vanilla sweetness. Halfway the flavors mellow out, the wood changes, I get a more herbal flavor with white pepper. The flavors are quite meaty. The pepper is getting stronger. Near the end the cigar is typically Nicaraguan with plenty of pepper and that Pepin twang they got famous for.


The draw is great, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is medium full in thickness, the amount is good too. The burn is good. The cigar is medium plus bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Great cigar, I will smoke this more often.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Centurion, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

La Antiguedad Toro

In 2015 I visited Nicaragua for the second time, this time with my then employer, journalist Marcel Langedijk and photographer Jesaja Hizkia to write the Cigaragua book. And amongst the factories we visited for the book was the My Father factory from the Garcia family. It’s one of the brands that we distributed in The Netherlands and my then employer saw a stack of samplers, a toro sampler and a torpedo sampler that looked great, so he ordered a stack without checking the price. Big mistake as the price per cigar was much higher than the regular boxes and so it took me more trouble to sell the sampler than expected, but I succeeded thanks to Christmas and Father’s day. In the next 5 days I’ll be publishing a review of each of the cigars from the Toro sampler, which contained this La Antiguedad, Don Pepin Garcia series JJ, Don Pepin Garcia Blue, Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial and a Centurion toro.


I start with the La Antiguedad, a cigar that saw the light in 2014 as a follow up to the very successful Flor de Las Antillas. The idea behind the cigar was the same, an old Cuban brand with the original artwork and to get that artwork took years, the blend was done but it took the Garcia family four more years before they could release it due to the search of the original artwork. The cigar is made with Nicaraguan filler and binder wrapped in an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper.


The smooth and oily wrapper feels soft and delicate, its has a dark color with a little reddish glow. The foot is protected by a piece of red cloth and the ring is little over an inch long with a drawing of what looks like a musketeer at a wedding, very detailed with bright glossy golden outlines. Construction feels good and the triple cap looks nice. The aroma is strong, I clearly smell ammonia even though the cigar has been aging in my humidor for three years. It has that ‘stable early on the morning before the floor is cleaned” smell.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste a sweet, dry, straw flavor. After lighting I taste an aspartame sweetness with coffee. After a centimeter I taste cedar with a sweet milk chocolate flavor.  Halfway the cigar gets a little more spicy but still with a sweet flavor as a coating. Halfway I taste some more wood. The cigar gets more woody with a mild pepper and still that sweetness, that reminds me of sugared rice puff candy from my youth.


The draw is great. The white ash is dense and firm. The burn is good yet the smoke could be more in volume. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, the sweetness in this cigar isn’t to my liking.

Score: 90
number90

Categories: 90, La Antiguedad, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco

When I was working for the largest independent cigar importer & distributer of The Netherlands one of the brands we handled was Joya de Nicaragua, and the best sellers were the very inexpensive Clasico, Rosalones and Cabinetta series, way better than the still very affordable Antaño and Antaño Dark Corojo lines. So when Joya de Nicaragua released their Cuatro Cinco to celebrate their 45 years in the industry my employer just looked at the prices and said “an 8 euro Joya, lets not do that, that price is way off compared to the 3 euro Clasico of 5 euro Antaño.”. Now a few weeks later I went on my first trip to Nicaragua and one of the factories I visited was Joya de Nicaragua. Juan Martinez welcomed me, we sat down in the conference room where a box of each of their offerings was displayed and asked “do you want to smoke something?”. I said “I don’t see the cuatro cinco, I would love to try that one and I would love a sample for my employer”. Juan got me a box, and the day I got back home, I drove to my employers shop, handed him the box, he smoked one and ordered every box that Joya still had in stock, not that that was a lot, only 80 boxes of the 4500 made were left so I handed him that sample right on time. Today is The Sandinista Revolution day, and since the factory has so much history with the rise of the Sandinista’s, it feels like a good day to publish this review today.


The cigar is a 6×54 toro extra, slightly box pressed and made completely from Nicaraguan tobacco, a true puro. The cigars were so popular that the company tweaked the blend a little, going from a all Nicaraguan cigar to a mostly Nicaraguan cigar with barrel aged ligero fillers, a Dominican volcano binder and the same wrapper as the original release. The new cuatro cinco reserva especial isn’t a limited edition, but will be produced in low numbers on a continues basis and is available in four vitolas instead of the just one in the original cuatro cinco release. I will be reviewing one of the reserva especial too in a later stage.


The ring is something special, they are actually two rings but on top of each other. The bottom ring is a bit bigger than the upper ring so you can see the golden ring with the white Joya de Nicaragua logos stick out on both the top and bottom side of the black ring. Now in the reserva especial this has changed to a silver bottom ring. The black ring has a golden Joya de Nicaragua logo with 4 horizontal lines on each side, one side says 1968 and the other one 2013. Above the logo is says edition limitada in cursive letters and underneath the logo it says cuatro cinco in big letters. This also changed with the reserva especial into white letters and a white logo with some golden details. This is how you can tell the difference when you see the cigars in the shop, and if you find the golden one, get it! On the inside of the ring, and I know this from previous cuatro cincos I smoked, you will find a drawing of either some vulcanos as a tribute to Nicaragua, hands as a tribute to the rollers or the factory. The clark wrapper feels silky and looks amazing with no visible big veins. The construction feels very good and the barnyard aroma is quite strong.


I punched the cigar and got a great cold draw with a pretty strong raisin flavor. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste some earthy flavor, leather, coffee and cocoa. After half a centimeter I taste cedar, spices and a little chocolate. After half an inch it’s cedar with a little nutmeg and pepper. After a third I also taste a mild sugar. Halfway I taste walnut with pepper. Slowly the pepper is getting stronger. At the end I taste cedar with the pepper.


The draw is close to perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is dense and firm, dark gray in color. The burn is good although I needed a touch up halfway. The smoke is thick and great in volume. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, well balanced and plenty of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible but I’ll settle for the reserva especial instead.

Score: 92
92

Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.