La Flor de Cano Casanova RE Italy

I worked in several industries from pharmaceutical to the entertainment industry and the cigar industry. While in most industries its just work and once you’re gone you’re out of sight and out of mind, the cigar industry is different. You form friendships and connections that last even when you leave the industry, weather its on free will or not. And this cigar is proof of that. How you might ask? Well, I got this cigar from Yuri Dijkstra, owner of the La Casa del Habano Almere, probably the most beautiful shop in The Netherlands and trust me, I’ve seen them all. I’m not a big fan of Cuban cigars, so me saying this about a La Casa del Habano means a lot. But him giving me a cigar isn’t proof of the bonding you do in the cigar industry. Oh, and to add, the day he gave me the cigar this Regional Edition of Italy was only released a few days before.


I saw Yuri at the funeral of Berry van Nugteren, owner of Van Lookeren Cigars in Amsterdam (if you’re ever in Amsterdam, visit them, great people, fantastic lounge). Berry was not just a shop owner but always looking for ways to elevate the whole game in The Netherlands, helping others, having a vision for the future and that didn’t change when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He kept fighting, not just for his health, but also to grow the market for everybody. I met Berry years before, as an account, but I visited him at home to smoke a cigar when he was ill and unable to go to the shop, he lend me his Porsche Cayenne when I had to drive Andre Farkas, Abe & Judy Flores and myself with our luggage to Intertabac and hardly fit into my Volvo V40, he visited me at my private lounge in my home to smoke a few cigars and even though I lost my job in the industry we stayed in touch and I visited his funeral where I ran into Yuri. Yuri is very partial to Cubans while I’m all about Nicaragua, yet we formed a friendship too that exists even after he sold his shop and started a La Casa del Habano where I had nothing to sell to, so it’s not about business and that makes the cigar industry so great.


Even though this cigar was released mid april 2017, it is the 2016 Edicion Regional for Italy, a petit robusto, 4 1/3×50 sized for the La Flor de Cano brand and is dubbed Casanova after the legendary ladies man. The wrapper looks good, quite dark for a Cuban cigar with a spark of minerals, a mild shine and no big veins. I can see a big vein on the binder though. When I look at the foot of the cigar it looks very well packed and it feels the same way which makes me worry about the draw, something I do anyway with Cuban cigars. The ring is a new design, much better than the old one. A white ring with golden details and a red circle with the old logo in gold. It looks clean, sharp and is very clear. I am digging this new ring a lot. The secondary ring is the regular exclusivo ring we have seen for the last 12 years. Much to my surprise I don’t smell ammonia in this young cigar but pure manure.


I punched the cigar and the draw is a little tight so I decided to cut instead which only improved the draw by a little bit. I taste a sharp and spicy raisin flavor. One I lit the cigar I taste a mildly harsh leather with a mild chocolate sweetness. After half an inch I taste herbs with salt and a faint chocolate. Halfway I taste nuts, salt and pepper. The cigar is gaining strength with an almost Nicaraguan, original Don Pepin twang pepper.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw and the tightly packed construction suggested. The smoke is medium in body and volume. The ash is quite dark and firm and there are white spots on the dark ash. The burn is straight and slow. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored, strong for a Cuban.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a Cuban that I would love to smoke more often.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Cuban cigars, Flor de Cano (Habanos), La Corona | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

RomaCraft Wunder|Lust Robusto

Back in early 2014, on a Flor de Cana infused night at the infamous club Cigar Zone in Esteli, Nicaragua my friend Pedro Gomez Rodriguez from Drew Estate introduced me to a friend of his, Skip Martin from Roma Craft, a company that was very under the radar for me back then, I mean read about the atlatl but that was about it. Skip gave me one of his cigars, the La Campaña de Panamá Sombrero, and instantly I was a fan. Little over a year later I returned to Esteli and contacted Skip, but he was in the hospital in Managua and wouldn’t return to Esteli in the time I was there. But on my last night in Nicaragua I was staying in a hotel in Managua and much to both Skip’s and my surprise I ran into Skip, his girlfriend and his daughter the moment I walked out my room. It goes without saying we ended up smoking a few great cigars that night.


Later that year Skip send me a message he was coming to Amsterdam and Germany the last few weeks of the year and he would arrive in Amsterdam on the 24th. Now I live very close to Amsterdam so that evening I picked Skip and his beautiful girlfriend up, we went for dinner and smoked a RomaCraft Wunderlust pre-release cigar. The next day his German distributer, Annemarie Schuster, joined us and since it was impossible to find a restaurant and a place to smoke on Christmas we ended up with takeaway Chinese at my place and spending the night smoking cigars in my man-cave. It was probably the best Christmas ever, not spending it with an official dinner at the in laws but just chilling with 3 like minded people enjoying a few drinks and a lot of cigars.


And Skip left some Wunderlust pre release cigars for me to enjoy.

Now there has been some talks about the cigar on the internet, mostly about the undisclosed filler. Skip admitted using tobacco from the storage of the Schuster family, that not only distribute premium cigars on the German market (next to RomaCraft they also distribute La Flor Dominicana and Casa Turrent) but they also produce dry cigars for several European countries, for the filler and rumors are that he is using Cuban tobacco for it, something Skip doesn’t admit or deny. The binder and wrapper are no secret, as a binder Skip uses a Indonesian Besuki and the wrapper is a Brazilian Mata Fina.


The wrapper is beautiful, dark, oily and with some tooth, the triple cap is one of the most beautiful I have seen and the construction feels flawless. The aroma is a deep, characterful manure aroma, medium strong. The cigar has the pre-release ring, and I must admit, I haven’t seen pictures of the cigar without the ‘pre-release’ lettering, so I can only rate this ring. Its a simple ring like you see more often at pre-release cigars but instead of a simple piece of paper RomaCraft decided to go for a better quality of paper with, if you look closely, a structure with millimeter thick squares. On the back they printed the RomaCraft logo in black and on the front it ways Wunder|Lust pre-release. For those that wonder what the name is about, its a mix between the german “wunder” what means wonder and wanderlust.

I punched the cigar to find a good cold draw with a dark chocolate, mint and raisin flavor. Now if I would do this cigar Skip Martin style I would simply write ‘I taste well fermented tobacco’ but I’ll do it my way. I lit the cigar with my Ronson soft flame and taste coffee with a little citrus. There is a toast flavor too, a little harsh but in a pleasant way. Pretty quickly the cigar becomes peppery with a hint of mild chocolate. Halfway it’s more of the same pepper, not overpowering though, with a little citrus and some leather. And the leather could be the reason why people suspect Cuban tobacco being used. The leather is getting stronger and I also taste some toast, the pepper is still there.
The smoke is thick and white, there is a lot of it too. The draw is perfect. The dense ash is very white. The burn is razorsharp. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 10 minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Only for sale in Germany, so I guess I’ll have to step in the car soon and drive to Cigarworld in Dusseldorf or the Whisky & Cigar Salon in Gronau and get myself a box

Score: 93
93

Other RomaCraft reviews:
09-13-2015 RomaCraft La Campaña de Panama Sombrero

Categories: 93, Nica Sueno, Nicaraguan cigars, RomaCraft | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro

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


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


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


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


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

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

Score: 95
95

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

00 Series, full line review

Now this is a kind of unusual review, not of one cigar but of 5 different cigars, all from one factory, series, but different vitolas. You might wonder why I don’t write separate reviews, well, I thought about that too, but I know too little about these cigars to write 5 full reviews and to be honest, the public opinion and sales numbers about these cigars were so poor that my expectations aren’t high at all so why waste 5 posts to these cigars instead of 1 long one with 5 ratings? And it’s a medium filler anyway, not worthy of 5 full reviews. So this will be a long read, but its 5 reviews at once.
00series1
I remember years ago that my then employer said “we have a new product, very cheap, medium filler and I expect a lot from these cigars because of their price”. Well, he was wrong! It’s simple to assume that price is the only reason for success, in this case the price was the only thing that was right but all the other reasons for success we missing. First of all I didn’t have any information, except that my employer got these cigars via Meerapfel in Belgium, so no manufacturer, no blend information, no factory information so I couldn’t give my retailers any information either. Then came the unappealing plain boxes, the cheap looking labels and the terrible name, add that there is completely no information found on the internet and even if there was, the name makes it impossible to find, I mean is the cigar called 01 as in all number ‘zero one’ or O1, as in the letter O and the number 1. Needless to say, I sold all the boxes to several retailers but they had a hard time selling them and I only got one re-order, Carlo from Rokado in Uden had a customer that liked them enough to order two more boxes of the number 3 size.

01

The 01 is the skinniest of the bunch, it measures 5 1/8×36 so that makes is a (short) panatela. The wrapper is a bit dull and feels a bit like very fine sandpaper. The ring is well printed but too simple to stand out, way too simple. Its just a regular shaped ring, dark blue with golden lettering, 2 horizontal stripes broken up by the number 01 (or the letter O and number 1). The construction feels a little soft, a little squishy but the cap is put on with skillful hands. The aroma is faint, but after a few sniffs I smell a manure aroma without any ammonia or acidity.


Due to the small ring gauge I can’t punch the cigar so I opted to cut it. The cold draw is surprisingly easy I though but then I remembered this being a medium filler. The cold draw is pretty tasteless, only a mild pepper taste. Lighting the cigar is pretty easy and I taste a musty earthy and coffee flavor. Too musty for my liking. The cigar gets a little harsh and the harshness grows to a level where I would have tossed the cigar if I wasn’t smoking it for a review.


The draw is fine, the smoke is oke, reasonably full but gray instead of white. The ash is fine, light gray and firm for a medium filler. The burn is straight as an arrow. The smoke time of this medium bodied mild flavored cigar is forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 72
number72

02

The 02 is the nub of the family, 4 inch long and a ring gauge of 62. Studio Tobac started with the nub, a lof of companies followed and I still don’t understand why and more, why these sizes are selling as I find all of them dull, boring and they lack dynamic due to the filler vs wrapper ratio.  The wrapper is identical to the wrapper on the 01 and the same goes for the ring with the difference in color, where the 01 has a dark blue ring, the 02 has a pitch black ring, shiny though. The cigar feels evenly packed but the head has a bump. The mild to medium strong aroma reminds me of a barn at a petting zoo.


Due to the big ring gauge I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a little on the loose side with a mild musty raisin flavor. After lighting the cigar taste musty, Connecticut Shade musty but the wrapper doesn’t look like shade grown. It’s musty cedar with some nutmeg, it’s not bad. After half an inch it’s just musty cedar, musty with a capitol M. After a third the cigar gets peppery and spicy but not in a great way, it’s better than the first third but there is no nuance or complexity just harsh wood and pepper. Near the end it’s musty again.


The draw is a bit on the loose side. The smoke is good though, not the thickest I’ve seen but still good and a better color than the 01. The ash is white and firm. The burn is oke. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is about 50 minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

03
The 03 is a fat robusto, a 5×60 and the wrapper is a lighter color than the 01 and the 02. The binder must not be very pretty either because I can see pimples under the wrapper, if this cigar was a teenager it would surely grab an acne lotion. The ring is boring like the 01 and the 02, just a shiny, bright green with golden 03, no fancy stripes like on the 01 and 02, just plain and boring. The construction feels good, the cigar is evenly packed although at the head of the cigar I feel a piece that doesn’t feel round but flat instead. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of hay and a barn before the hay of the night before is cleaned out.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a bit loose, but then again, it is a medium filler. I taste almost nothing, only a little harsh tobacco. After lighting I taste a little nutmeg and cinnamon, the flavors feel warm. The flavor isn’t bad nor great, and there is no evolution. Halfway the nutmeg and cinnamon becomes a bit musty. Near the end the cigar gets a little harsh.


The draw is good. The smoke is also very good, plenty and thick. The ash is light gray but not too firm. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied cigar medium flavored with poor evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

04

The 04 is the first one with a regular size, 5×50 robusto and the wrapper looks the same as the 01 and the 02 but a little rougher because of a vein. The ring is burgundy red with golden letters and just like the 03 without the stripes on the side. This is the first of the series where I can’t comment on the construction, it feels good and looks good. The aroma is mild and smells like straw and hay, clean straw and hay.


After my experiences with the first 3 I am reluctant to smoke number 4, but you should finish what you start so I cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine, a little spicy. I taste a mild coffee with some acidity after lighting the cigar. Halfway the cigar is all citrus with spices. The cigar slowly gets a little harsh.


The draw is great. The smoke is a bit thin. The light gray ash is layered and firm for a medium filler. The burn is straight. The evolution is almost non existent again. This is a medium  bodied medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 77
number77

05

The 6×60 gordo has the roughest wrapper of them all, a shade darker than the 01, 02 and 04 but still dull, dry and with a sandpaper touch and a little roughness on the appearance. The cigar feels well packed and looks fine. As for the ring, I think the designer went on a bender during the weekend and designed this on monday morning while still intoxicated. Come on, I can handle the diamond shaped squares with the golden outlines but the color combination? What is this, a carnival cigar? Alternating purple and orange with gold? What was the designer thinking? And then using the same purple to write 05 in an orange square? People are fired for less. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of hay that has been used in a barn, but I also smell a little mint.


After the first 4 cigars I’m dreading this one, bad scores and flavors overall, and the final cigar is a size I hate so that combination makes me not want to light the cigar. I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great but tasteless. After lighting I taste a musty earthy flavor. Halfway I taste a little pepper.


The draw is a bit loose with a decent amount of medium thick smoke. The ash is light gray and coarse. The burn is decent. The evolution is non existent. This is a mild to medium bodied and mild to medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 76
number76

Categories: 00 Series, 72, 76, 77, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigar of the month May

Over the last month I reviewed 14 cigars and the cigar of the month may is:

Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero with a 95 score.

This month I smoked a unicorn that scored high, something I never expected to smoke, I smoked the best lancero I had in a long long time, and the best cigar I’ve smoked this year and the three worst cigars I rated for my blog since my new rating system came in place. So the reviews were all over the board.

1) Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero (Dominican Republic) 95 points
2) Undercrown Manifesto (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Robusto (Honduras) 93 points
4) JSK CRNA NOK Toro (Nicaragua) 93 points
5) Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro Robusto Nicaragua) 92 points
6) Santiago Connecticut Robusto (Nicaragua) 89 points
7) Macanudo Inspirado Mareva (Honduras) 88 points
8) 708 Juniors Barber Pole (Dominican Republic) 85 points
9) Antonius Red Label Robusto (Dominican Republic) 85 points
10) Romeo Y Julieta Gran Reserva Wide Churchill (Cuba) 84 points
11) 708 Shaggy Barber Pole (Dominican Republic) 82 points
12) Macarena Maduro Toro (Mexico) 75 points
13) Macarena Naturel Toro (Mexico) 73 points
14) Gasparilla Pirate Fest Churchill (USA) 73 points

 

Balmoral is a Dutch company, so as a fellow Dutchy i’m happy that we still master the art of making great cigars.

Categories: Cigar of the month | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Macanudo Inspirado Mareva

Macanudo, still rumored to be the best sold brand worldwide, but never has it been one of my favorite brands. I tend not to like cigars from the big companies as to me those cigars lack soul and character. I mean, compare it to McDonalds vs a one off hamburger joint with quality products and passionate staff, its a world of difference. Brands owned by the big companies tend to be the same, instead of making great cigars and earning a living with them its making as much money possible with tobacco no matter what, to satisfy the shareholders. Those companies have no pride in what they are doing, while the family owned companies pride themselves in the quality they produce. I mean, look what Davidoff did with Camacho, it was a great product, Davidoff bought it, rebranded and reblended it and now its nothing but a marketing product without a soul. The moment Imperial Tobacco took a 50% stake in Habanos the quality went down considerably and now its all about limited editions, regional editions etc but the quality and the soul of the cigars dropped or are lost. Scandinavian Tobacco, owner of General Cigars, is the worst and I lost all my respect for them when I found out that they supported the FDA ruling about premium cigars.


Now I’m not saying that everybody in those accountant & marketing managers run company have no passion about tobacco, I had the pleasure of talking with Benji Menendez while he was still working for General Cigars, I met Rick Rodriguez on several occassions and those guys have a passion for cigars, I bet there are more people like that but they don’t run the company. Ernesto Perez Carrillo sold his La Gloria Cuban to General Cigars and was contractually stuck there for 10 years but the moment the contract expired he started his own company again where he makes cigars with a soul, with character. Now there are always exemptions, a company like Gurkha is small and privately owned yet for me they fall into the categorie of the soulless cigars as its nothing but a marketing scheme and Hantosia doesn’t even smoke cigars as far as I know, thats a company without passion either.


Now on the cigar, a few years ago General Cigars released a new blend, at first just for the European market, Macanudo Inspirado. The blend consists from a mixture of Nicaraguan, Honduras and Dominican filler with a Jamastran, Honduras binder and a posada wrapper from San Augustin in Honduras. It later got released in the United States too, there were line extentions, a second and a third Inspirado line were released but this 5 1/8×42 mareva was created especially for the ‘cigar smoking world championship’ organized by my friend Marko Bilic. Now I see cigar smoking as relaxation and for me a competition with cigar is an absurd idea, but the world championship is a success so I’m probably in the minority with my opinion and that’s okay.


The cigar comes in cellophane and once unwrapped I see a medium brown but pale wrapper. The wrapper looks fine when it comes to veins and all, but the color is a little pale as I said. The construction feels good and the cap is beautifully constructed. The ring is fine, its a reddish orange with golden outlines, a golden macanudo logo and lettering over some faded white text, the gold print is actually very well done. The cigar has a pretty strong aroma that I can only compare with cow manure but I couldn’t smell any ammonia so thats good.

I cut the cigar guillotine style, the cold draw is very easy and I can’t imagine people being able to smoke this cigar over two hours. I taste some raisin, hay and a lot of pepper. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste bitter coffee with a chocolate aftertaste. After a few puffs it’s bitter coffee with sugar aftertaste. The bitterness disappears and makes place for a mild freshness and a woody yet sweet flavor. After a third the flavors are sharp and a little harsh. Halfway the flavors are less harsh, I now taste cedar with herbs and spices. The sugary sweetness is still there too.


The draw is easy but not too loose. The ash is medium gray and layered. It’s also quite firm. The burn is a bit uneven. The smoke is plentiful and medium thick. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The body flavor ratio and the evolution are good. The smoke time for me is about an hour so if I competed I wouldn’t even be close to the top of the charts.

Would I buy this cigar again? I love the vitola, I don’t love the cigar though as it lacks soul and character.

Score: 88

88

Categories: 88, Honduran cigars, Macanudo | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My man cave & humidor

About three years ago, right after I came back from Nicaragua the first time, I got the keys to house I bought. I bought a place where I could built a man cave and a walk-in humidor.

Before I lived in an apartment and everything smelled of cigar smoke, so I wanted a place where I could smoke cigars without contaminating the rest of my house, the house I bought is perfect. Indoor garage on the ground floor with a extra room, that room I turned into my man cave. First floor is kitchen and living room, second floor three bedrooms and a bathroom.

Now you want to see the man cave and the walk-in? Click on this link and you’ll see a short video.

Categories: Misc | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve

A few months ago I invited some friends over for a few cigars and one of them had actually never been to my new home, with man cave & walk in humidor, he had been to my previous apartment though. He is an avid Cuban smoker, but not snobbish about it and always willing to try non Cuban cigars. As a thank you for the invite he brought me a Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve. He knows that I’m not the biggest Cuban fan to say the least and he wanted to give me something he knew I would never buy for myself. And he was right. Tonight I’m going to review that 5×55 cigar, which is thick for a Cuban and thick for me.


The Grand Reserve series was first seen in 2009 and Habanos claims that they select special tobacco for the Grand Reserve series and that the tobacco ages a minimum of 5 years before being rolled. Now that might impress Cuban smokers, it doesn’t impress me nor does it impress anybody with knowledge about non Cubans as 5 years isn’t very long. The tobacco for this Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve is from the 2009 crop and was released in 2015. 5000 boxes of 15 cigars were released worldwide, so they are pretty rare.


The cigar has a brown reddish glow and a few veins. The construction feels good and the head of the cigar is very flat. The rings, Habanos have specific rings for special releases and use the same rings on whatever brand the release is and often those rings don’t combine very well. This is not the case with the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve, the three rings match. On top there is the classic red Romeo y Julieta ring with the white line, white letters and golden decorations, the second ring is the “old Romeo style” ring that is always used on the wide churchill as a nod to the original rings, golden with black letters and then there is what looks like a third ring but is actually still the second ring, the Grand Reserve ring, that is black with golden lining and golden lettering Habana Cuba and the Grand Reserve logo. The aroma is classic Cuban, barnyard with a hint of ammonia, mild to medium strong.


Due to the size I decided to punch instead of cut. Recently I prefer to punch anyway. The cold draw is tight, I might have to cut after all or worse, use my draw poker. I taste a mild bitter taste that I can’t describe, but it’s not unpleasant. The usual vintage Ronson is used to light the cigar. The first taste is bitterness on the tip of my tongue. The bitterness quickly fades and changes to some chocolate with some herbs. After a centimeter I taste some wood with a little bit of herbs. The chocolate is gone. After a third I taste a very mild pepper on the background. The cigar has a wood undertone but all the flavors are medium at max. After two thirds i taste some nice dark chocolate which i like. Slowly I discover some nuts too with some licorice.


The draw is on the tight side and that causes the smoke to be medium thick at most and not too big in volume. The burn is crooked and the ash is silver gray and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s impossible within my budget, the cigars were priced crazy high when they were released and that price only has gone up. And even then, this cigar isn’t made for my palate. With a better draw the score would have been 2 points higher though.

Score: 84

84

Categories: 84, Cuban cigars, Romeo y Julieta (Habanos), Romeo y Julieta Factory | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

708 Barber Pole Shaggy & Juniors

Recently I was visiting the headquarters of a company that is thinking about going into cigars and the owner gave me a few cigars to try, amongst them were these 708 Shaggy & Juniors Barber pole by Brothers Cigars. I knew nothing about the brand so I googled and it turns out it is a Dominican made cigar named after the area code of Chicago where the brothers Zaid & Firas Eid have their shop.

As I said, the cigar is made on the Dominican Republic and I’ve seen and smoked several barber pole cigars, mostly with two kinds of wrappers. This cigar is actually made with three wrappers, Connecticut Shade, Habano and Maduro, so that sets it apart from the others. The Shaggy Barber Pole measures 7 1/2 inch but the bottom part is shaggy, and the ring gauge is 52 while the Juniors Barber Pole is a 4×44 petit corona.

708 Shaggy Barber Pole


I like the look, 3 different color wrappers of which the Connecticut shade has the least appealing look because of a vein. In the shaggy foot I can see different colors of tobacco too. I wouldn’t call it a real shaggy foot though, just uncut, as it is pressed and firm, not shaggy. The construction feels great, the head is well rounded and the cap is applied perfectly. The only comment I can give is that the different tobaccos aren’t all applied in an even thickness, the Babano wrapper is a smaller strip than the Maduro or Connecticut. The ring is simple, Beige in the centre fading to brown with a simple brown logo saying 708 cigars in a handwritten font. The secondary ring has the barber pole style and says Barber Pole, just in case you hadn’t noticed. The rings are printed on nice glossy paper. The aroma is very strong, hay, straw and barnyard.


When I wet the cap to punch it I notice the sweetened cap, that’s not a positive in my book. The cold draw is fine and all I taste is that chemical sweetener. After carefully lighting the cigar I taste that sweetness with a little coffee, but it’s so overpowered by that naar sweetness that it’s almost not detectable. After the shaggy foot I just taste that nasty sweetness, I’m afraid this will be a long and painful review. The sweetness is fading a little bit and instead I taste a harshness of poor quality tobacco and a hint of chocolate. After a third the sweetness has faded to an acceptable level and I taste cheap chocolate and some soil. The flavor doesn’t change much, the second third starts out with the earth flavor and the chemical sweetness. Halfway the sweetness is finally gone, I taste green herbs, spicy, like rucola salad. The final third it’s wood with earth, pepper and herbs. The final few puffs are spicy and peppery.


The draw is fine. The smoke is white but too thin for my liking. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is good, quite straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, the evolution picks up halfway. The smoke time is three hours.


Would I buy this cigar again? I still have one, guess I’ll have to cut the whole sweetened tip off before lighting it. The sweetened tip caused the score to be at least 5 points lower than it would have gotten without that nasty sweetness.

Score: 82
number82

708 Juniors Barber Pole


The day after, the next 708 Barber Pole but this time the 4×40 Juniors. Just as the Shaggy this cigar has three different wrappers, Connecticut Shade, Habano and Maduro and again the strips of tobacco are different in size, the maduro is way thinner than the others. The ring is a carbon copy of the Shaggy and the construction is equally good. The aroma is just as strong as the shaggy, very strong for a petit corona, and again hay, straw and barnyard.


Due to the thin size I cut the cigar instead of punching it. I’m smoking outside in an almost wind free spot of my garden for a change due to the perfect summer weather, so I will light the cigar with a jet flame. The cold draw is a bit loose and I taste some of the sweetness from the sweetened tip but not as strong as on the shaggy and some raw tobacco. I taste a spicy coffee and earthy flavor with just a hint of sweetness, the first puff is so much better than the shaggy. After a quarter of an inch the cigar gets a little harsh. After a third I don’t taste any sweetness just a sharp, spicy and mild salty fresh wood flavor and some earth. Slowly the cigar gets a little harsh again with more pepper. Near the end I taste more wood.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick, white and there’s a lot of it. The ash is salt and pepper colored and firm. This is a medium bodied medium full flavored cigar with not a lot of evolution but then again, it’s too short to have a lot of evolution. The smoke time is forty five minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? I would pick this over the shaggy but won’t pay for it.

Score: 85
number85

Categories: 708 Cigars, 82, 85, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova

Mid september 2015 George Sosa from Alec Bradley came to The Netherlands for the Dutch Big Smoke, which is not related to the American Big Smokes hosted by Cigar Aficionado due to our laws, but at the Dutch Big Smoke 10 cigars were introduced to the Dutch market. We as the Alec Bradley distributer decided to go for the Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova, a 5×50 Nicaraguan puro produced in Honduras. I picked George up from the airport and his first question was if I ever smoked the Tempus Nicaragua. My answer was no, he pulled one out of his bag and we lit up. Straight away I loved the cigar, without thinking twice I told George it was the best Alec Bradley I had ever smoked, it was a great fit for my palate.


The Big Smoke was very successful and the days after the event we drove around, visiting accounts and smoking nothing but the Tempus Nicaragua, even on the long drive to Dortmund, to the Intertabac trade show we lit those babies up.  So its safe to say that this isn’t a review where I don’t know what to expect, but more of a review where I wonder how high the score will be. The cigar has a nice dark and rustic looking wrapper, you know its not going to be a mild cigar just by looking at it. The construction feels good and the cigar has a beautiful triple cap. The ring is exactly the same as on the Tempus and the Tempus Maduro but in a different color, just like the Tempus and Tempus Maduro differ in color. The foot ring is brown with golden lining and white letters Nicaragua while the regular ring, which is quite big has the red & white Alec Bradley logo with crown surrounded by silver and golden circles, a black banner with the Alec Bradley name and a brown bottom with beautiful Roman style lettering saying Tempus. The gold and silver really pop, beautiful printing quality. The aroma is medium strong, but it has a deep and pleasant aroma of a barnyard, horses and a little bit of dark chocolate.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw, which is perfect, gives me a little spice and raisin. I used my Ronson varaflame to light the cigar. The first puffs are a full coffee, a little bitter, with some cocoa and spices. After an inch I taste spices, herb and a very mild citrus. Soon after I taste a spicy, pleasant bitterness with a little sugar like sweetness. Halfway it’s all spices and herbs with a little sweet chocolate. A few puffs later the cigar becomes meaty, not a meat flavor but a feeling. After two thirds it’s a beautiful mix of spices, sweetness, a little pepper, well balanced. Near the end I also taste nuts with the mentioned flavors and a mild acidic citrus flavor.


The draw is great, smooth and easy. The smoke is thick, luscious and abundant. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is a little bit crooked but it corrects itself quick. The strength I would call medium plus, both in body and in flavor.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this was my last one, need to get a new box.

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.