La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte Robusto

Before I started working in the industry, I think that was about 2011, me and my cigar smoking friends from The Netherlands were always looking for the latest finds from My Father and A.J. Fernandez that weren’t available here in The Netherlands, and the La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte was one of them. One of my friends, Jan, ordered a box and shared some with me, I think this specific cigar is a few years old by now.


The cigar is made by A.J. Fernandez at his factory in Esteli, like all cigars that I’m reviewing this month. The cigar, in this case a 5 1/2×54 robusto, is made from Nicaraguan filler and binder with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. As the name suggests, the wrapper is very dark and the cigar is probably quite strong.


The cigar is dark, leathery and oily. The ring is white with light brown, gold and copper detailing and logo, and it says La Herencia Cubana. Then there is a secondary ring that looks like the classic Cuban regional edition ring yet in green and silver instead of red and silver as the Cubans do. The cigar feels kind of hard but without any soft spots, the shape and the cap look nice. Even after all these years, the cigar has a strong aroma of a barnyard and a stable full of cows.


I was in the mood for a bold cigar and I expect this to fit my needs. I used a cheap plastic cutter. The cold draw is a little tight, I taste a mild milk chocolate flavor with pepper. After lighting I taste a dry earthy flavor with coffee. The earthy flavor is the dominant flavor but there is also a hint of cocoa. After a third I taste a buttery, sticky yet mild and slightly bitter chocolate with some wood and herbs. Slowly I taste some mint too. Halfway I taste wood, oak, with a little acidity. The end has a little black pepper.


The draw is good. The ash is medium dark and a little flaky. The smoke is medium thick and full. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, La Herencia Cubana, 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: , , , , , ,

Reposado Maduro Salomon

Yesterday, when I reviewed the Reposado 96 Habano Salomon I told you how I got introduced to the cigars and how I was amazed by the price. I remember that back in those days I smoked quite a few of these, I might even have ordered a box for myself or did I do a box split? I can’t remember exactly since it’s been so long ago. Somehow I lost these cigars out of sight. Time to revisit the maduro version as well.


I do not know if the Reposado 96 Salomon is related to the, also cheap, Reposado Estate Blend. Well, related it is, but what I ment to say, I don’t know if the blend is the same. The relationship is clear, both brands owned by Meier & Dutch, both brands made at A.J. Fernandez his operations in Esteli, both dirt cheap but the Estate Blend comes in bundles of 10 and have rings while the salomon, that got released years before the estate blend, comes in boxes of 30 and without ring. If anybody knows the answer, please contact me.


Just like the Habano this cigar comes protected in cellophane. The wrapper is dark and toothy, it feels a bit like fine sanding paper. The construction is awesome, the shape, the size, the color, this cigar looks apetizing and feels well made. Again, no ring so no score for that. The cigar has a medium, dry woody and slightly floral aroma.


The shape of the cigar asks for a cut, the cold draw is good, mild spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste coffee, clean yet smooth. After an inch I taste the coffee yet with sweetness and pepper. I also taste some licorice and chocolate. After a third I notice that the flavors are a bit muted. Halfway I taste some vanilla and cream with a good dose of pepper. The creaminess disappears while the pepper grows.


The draw is perfect. The ash is quite dark. The cigar had a nice evolution. The white smoke is medium thick and full. This cigar is medium to full bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Reposado, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

Reposado Habano Salomon

About 10 years ago a friend of mine brought me a few huge figurados, bigger than I had ever seen by then, and he asked me what I think the price tag was. I was shocked when I heard that they were less than $2.50 at one of the big internet retailers, a price that has just slightly increased over the last decade. So I started digging, found out they are a Meier & Dutch private label made by A.J. Fernandez under the Reposado 96 name. Years later I personally introduced the cigars to the Dutch market and they sold quite well here too.


These 7.1 x 58 FIgurados come in three blends, Connecticut, Habano and Maduro but I only smoked the latter two due to my disliking of the Connecticut Shade wrappers. The cigar is made with Nicaraguan grown Cuban seed tobacco and they come in boxes of 30 sticks, and with a cigar of this size and shape that means big boxes, that actually look very nice.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I see a slight reddish brown wrapper, quite smooth and nice, it looks way better than what you can expect for that price. The cigar feels well constructed, it looks just very cool due to the shape and impressive due to the size. The cigar has no ring. The cigar has a medium full barnyard and spice aroma.


Due to the vitola I have no option but to cut. The only cutter I had in reach was a freebie double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is great, woody and meaty with a little pepper. After lighting I instantly taste a strong yet balanced coffee. After the thin tip the cigar opens up, the coffee is less strong with some sugar and a little acidity. There is also a hint of dark chocolate. After an inch I taste cedar with a vanilla and floral sweetness. Slowly the flavors get stronger and some black pepper shows up too. Halfway the flavors turn a little from smooth to a more fuller flavor. Cedar with creamy chocolate and pepper. The final thirds starts smooth again, young wood, some sweetness and a little pepper. The pepper is growing in strength.


The draw is great. Yet the smoke is on the thin side. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a great budget cigar.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , ,

Cigar of the month January

Since the end of the year is an expensive month for most of us, I decided to smoke and review some budget cigars for the month of January. I wish I hadn’t though, even though some budget cigars preformed really well, and others had a good price-quality ratio, I rather pay a few dollars extra and have an almost guaranteed cigar enjoyment.

As for this month, the cigar with the highest rating is:
Diesel Unholy Cocktail with a 95 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Diesel Unholy Cocktail Belicoso (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Calixto Lopez Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
3) Nica Libre Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
4) Blue Ribbon Robusto (Nicaragua) 90 points
5) Joya Black Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
6) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Corona (Honduras) 89 points
7) Flor de Oliva Lancero (Nicaragua) 88 points
8) Benchmade Toro (Nicaragua) 87 points
9) Schizo Maduro Robusto (Honduras) 87 points
10) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Habano (Honduras) 87 points
11) Alec Bradley Spirit of Cuba Natural (Honduras) 86 points
12) Cuba Libre Epicure (Honduras) 85 points
13) Schizo Robusto (Nicaragua) 85 points
14) Miami Mafia Torpedo (Nicaragua) 85 points
15) Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos (Nicaragua) 84 points
16) Non Plus Ultra Maduro Toro (Honduras) 84 points
17) Berger & Argenti Mooch Maduro Corona (Nicaragua) 84 points
18) Reposado Maduro Toro (Nicaragua) 84 points
19) Oro de Esteli Robusto (Nicaragua) 83 points
20) Jose L Piedro Cazadores (Cuba) 83 points
21) Nestor Reserva Maduro Torpedo (Honduras) 82 points
22) La Flor de Rosa Churchill (Nicaragua) 82 points
23) Don Tomas Clasico Robusto (Honduras) 80 points
24) Reposado Habano Toro (Nicaragua) 79 points
25) La Rica Churchill (Nicaragua) 78 points
26) Cucaracha Nub (Nicaragua) 77 points
27) JR Edicion Limitada Robusto (undisclosed) 77 points
28) Oro de Esteli Robusto (Nicaragua) 77 points
29) Quorum Toro (Nicaragua) 73 points

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Non Plus Ultra Maduro Toro

Non Plus Ultra, as far as I know this cigar was only sold in The Netherlands and it was a private label for the Non Plus Ultra Cigar Shop in Den Bosch, which is now called Van Dalen but still owned by the same owner who’s also a distributor and owner of Van Dalen Cigars in Rotterdam and Cigaragua in Amsterdam. The same cigars are still available in The Netherlands under the Davila name at the Compaenen group.


Now these cigars were made by Carlos Torano in Honduras before Torano was acquired by STG, although the origin of the cigars goes way back. It’s actually an old Cuban brand that has ties to both Hoyo de Monterrey and Ramon Allones. If you google the brand you will find old rings, of the early 1900’s that are similar to the current Hoyo de Monterrey ring and the old Ramon Allones ring.


Now this cigar is aged, at least a decade old but the dark wrapper still looks very tasty. The ring is simple, just glossy paper with red and blue squares and a brushed copper name. The construction feels good, the shape looks good, the cap is nice. The cigar has a mild wood and tar aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cols draw is a little tight. I taste a little pepper. After lighting I taste a dry, old coffee flavor. After half an inch I taste cocoa with a musty taste. Halfway I taste dry toast with nutmeg and pepper, quite dry. The final third starts with some marzipan sweetness, low grade marzipan though with some harshness and mild musty. The cigar gets stronger with more harshness at the end.

Hond
The dense ash is white. The draw is decent. The gray smoke is thin and low in volume. The burn is razor sharp. I would say this is a medium bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s a firm no!

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Nicaraguan cigars, Non Plus Ultra | Tags: , , , ,

La Rica Churchill

I remember smoking this cigar early in my cigar life and liking it, then I remember smoking it years later and not liking it anymore. Let’s see if this tubed Churchill makes the first category or the latter one. I tried to find some information online and only saw the cigar mentioned on Belgian and U.K. based websites, nowhere else, so I’m guessing these cigars aren’t available in the USA.


The cigars are made in Nicaragua, that I know, because it says so on the tube, Hecho a mano Nicaragua natural. And the tax ring around the cigar tells me I bought this in Belgium, most likely at Huis Verloo in Antwerp for the price of € 7,50.


The milk chocolate colored wrapper isn’t the best looking wrapper I have ever seen, to put it mildly. It has a few medium thick, unflattened veins and a color that looks just a bit off. The ring is simple, yellow and black with a abstract sun and black letters La Rica.  The construction has an even feel but the cap could look better. The aroma is quite pungent, acidic with some milk chocolate.


After cutting the cigar I taste a little sweetness and pepper with a great draw. After lighting I taste coffee, but a bit harsh. The cigar doesn’t improve, no the contrary, the cigar gets meaner. After a third I taste a harsh, mean wood with vinegar. The vinegar fades away. I still taste a mean woody flavor, but bid with some straw and a mild pepper. The flavors are getting meaner and more harsh in the last third, yet there is also a bit sweetness.


The draw is fine, the ash is dark though. The ash is medium in volume and thin. The color is gray. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and unfortunately medium flavored. It lasts two horrible hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it wasn’t for a review I would not have finished the cigar.

Score: 78
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Categories: 78, La Rica, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Calixto Lopez Torpedo

When I met the late Don Kiki Berger I thought he was living the life, I mean, the guy had his own factory in Nicaragua and most of what he produced he sold to his own shop, Cuban Crafters, where he had busloads of Asian tourists stop, clean the place out like a flog of locusts and then move on (I saw this with my own eyes). He didn’t have to deal with sales reps, shops owners etc etc, and every time I saw his he was hanging out with his friends playing domino at the shop or having a good time at the lounge.


One of the cigars he made is the Calixto Lopez, named after a famed old Cuban brand, and made with filler from Esteli, Jalapa and Ometepe in Nicaragua, a Sumatra leaf from Ecuador as a binder and a five year aged Cuban seed maduro wrapper from Nicaragua. And they are cheap, one $4.50 if you buy them by the box. Now I didn’t buy a box, I bought a few singles to try and this is the last one I have left so time for a review.


The wrapper is dark, but feels dry and the touch reminds me of old velvet. There are hardly veins and the wrapper just looks good. The ring is classic, red circle with golden outlines, white letters and logo. Simple and not of the best quality, yet clear. The construction feels good and the shape of the cigar is nice. The aroma is strong and deep, an intense barnyard aroma mixed with dark stained wood found on a barn that has been baking in the sun for years.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. It tastes a little like a raisin. After lighting I taste a mix of leather, coffee and dates. Slowly it changes to leather with sugar. Then it changes to gingerbread with some pepper and all within the first half inch. The leather is back with pepper and some floral sweetness. The leather constantly varies in strength, with herbs, pepper and a coconut sugar. The final third is dry leather, less sweet, more pepper.


The draw is good yet it’s hard to keep the cigar lit. The smoke is medium thick and full. The evolution is great. The light gray ash isn’t that firm I thought at first, as it broke quickly but then it got firm. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Next time I’m in Miami I’m getting a box.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Calixto Lopez, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Jose L Piedra Cazadores

This brand is considered one of Cuba’s budget brands and it’s one of the major brands in the Habanos portfolio, with a worldwide distribution except for the United States of course. The brand was started in the 1880’s, it was discontinued 100 years later but within a few years it came back to the market. No limited editions of the Jose L Piedra were ever made.


Everything about this brand screams budget, the packaging in cardboard, the rings, simple in color and design without any embossing, this is just a lower end Cuban cigar and I used to smoke them when smoking was still allowed in bars. It’s a waste to smoke good cigars when you’re drinking with buddies, the Jose L Piedra brand was perfect for those moment.


The wrapper looks rough, the color is nice but a lot of veins and some shading. The ring, which is an old ring that was used between 2002 and 2007, is simple, a brown grayish color ring with white logo and lettering. The construction feels reasonable and the cigar has a below average finish. The aroma is mild, a little bit of a barnyard smell.


The cold draw after cutting the cigars is good, mildly sweet and a little sharp. After lighting I taste a sweet leather flavor. I also taste nutmeg. The flavors are mild. After a third I taste a mild salty peanut flavor with herbs. The flavors slowly change to a salty licorice flavor.


The draw is good. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The light gray ash looks nice and is firm. The burn is decent. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 83
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Categories: 83, Cuban cigars, José L Piedra (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos

Well, I don’t know where I got this cigar and there is not a lot of information online. And all the information I find is on mainly English websites. I do know it’s for sale in The Netherlands and that it’s a budget cigar with a price tag of 4 euro. I may have gotten it from a customer to try it and give my opinion.


The cigar is made in Nicaragua, but I don’t know by whom. It’s a 4×50 cigar with filler from Panama and Nicaragua, a binder from Nicaragua and a Brazilian wrapper. They come in 24 count boxes.


The wrapper is dark, or is it more of a two tone? Theres a clear difference in the color, it goes from dark to a little lesser dark. The ring is pretty nice, think, black and red, well printed with a simple modern design. The construction is good, the cap is nice, the cigar feels evenly packed. The medium strong aroma is classic cigar barnyard with a little bit of charcoal.


After cutting I get a great cold draw, mild spicy dry tobacco is what I taste. After lighting I taste a sharp mix of spices with dirt. After half an inch I taste dirt or soil. The sharpness fades, it’s just a dirt flavor halfway. The flavors don’t change anymore, just grow a little in strength.


The dense ash is bright white. The white smoke is thick and voluminous. The burn needed a few small corrections. The draw is fine. There isn’t much of development in this medium full bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Chinchallero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

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