Swag for the man cave

When I was looking for a house to buy I specifically looked for a house where I could have a man cave with a walk-in humidor to enjoy my cigars, my music and my movies. In the apartment where I used to live I smoked in the living room but since everything was on one floor my whole place smelled of old cigar smoke and I wanted to avoid that.

So I found this house, in the town I grew up in, close to my parents and my sister, waterfront garden, 2 minute walk to a supermarket yet not on a busy road that had the perfect set up. The ground floor has a indoor garage and behind the garage there is this room, some call it garden room, some call it sun room but to me its my man cave/office. The living and the kitchen are a storey up, the bedrooms and bathroom even two storeys up so no issues with cigar smoke. As an added bonus the man cave has a double door to the garden so on warm days I can just open the doors and enjoy the fresh air.

Anyhow, I built that walk-in with my father, a friend painted some cigar logo’s on one of the walls and I managed to get some artwork from several companies to dress up the room. My Father Cigars send m an awesome painting, Rocky Patel got me two metal signs, Alec Bradley gave me a table top lighter, two signs and a huge ashtray, Oliva got me a canvas and Jessi Flores hooked me up with several Drew Estate items. Add that to the cigar store indian and the decals I already had I was able to decorate my man cave pretty decent.

But now, today, the doorbell rings and the UPS guy hands me a huge box, and I mean really huge. I see the shipping address and realize it’s from my dear friend Courtney Smith, who works for Cornelius & Anthony and she completely blew my front porch away. I mean, I really have to figure out where to put all the items she send me because they deserve the best spots in the room as they are awesome.

Now what did I get you might ask? I will tell you:
two different ashtrays, a cool poster with Cornelius, a metal Cornelius sign, a beautiful shirt with Cornelius & Anthony logos embroidered  and piece the resistance, a mind blowing woodcarving with the Cornelius & Anthony logo. Pictures just don’t do it justice but I’ll post them anyway.

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Categories: Misc | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Jas Sum Kral Kralot Toro (pre-release)

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigars of Habanos Custom Rolled 52

As you might have read in a few of my older reviews, my wife is from Singapore so it’s natural that I’ve been to Singapore more than a few times and during my travels I met a few fine cigar aficionados there that I always try to meet up with and have a smoke or two when I’m in town. And since I have a huge stash of cigars and the prices here in Europe are much nicer than the insane prices in Singapore I always bring something to share, on my last trip it was a Undercrown Flying Pig, but one of the original releases, the limited edition for The Netherlands since my friend Jason had never smoked a flying pig.


Jason offered me a cigar in return that I had never smoked, a custom rolled cigar in the Cohiba Behike 52 size, made for the famous Hong Kong based webshop Cigars of Habanos. I guess they are so close to the management of Habanos and such good clients that they can have custom rolls made with Cuban tobacco to sell on their website. Since the best Cubans in general are the custom rolled or farm rolled cigars, because the rollers take time to create something good instead of rushing the cigars out, I am curious about this cigar.


Now the cigar, that comes in bundles and without ring to reduce costs, has no ring and that creates an issue since I rate the ring for my final score. So what I do is don’t rate it and divide the final number with 95 instead of 100 to offset the lack of the ring. The silky smooth and oak looking wrapper has a few veins. The cigar is well packed, quite hard to the touch but evenly hard and the tiny flag cap makes it a nice looking cigar. The mild aroma is quite interesting, it smells like sweet cookie dough with a little vanilla.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is a little on the loose side with a spicy sultana flavor. After lighting with a torch I taste coffee with some sugar. Soon after the flavors change to cedar and cinnamon with some icing sugar. After a third I taste some cedar with fresh cut green herbs, cilantro and basil. Halfway I taste cedar with cinnamon and vanilla, all subtle and balanced. Near the end the cigar gets sweeter and spicier again with a little pepper.


The draw is fine and the smoke is thick and white. The light colored ash is firm and the burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The cigar is subtle and balanced. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked it so yeah.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Cuban cigars, Custom Rolled (Habanos) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Stoptober

In many countries around the world, October is the month to try to stop people to smoke under the name ‘stoptober’. This morning I got invited to a Facebook group called Aficionados Liberation Front, a group that was founded to troll the yearly anti-tobacco protest in front of the Intertabac trade show. Now the group is targeting the Stoptober movement, and you can join. How? See the copied message below:

“Dearly appreciated fellow partisans,

After a 2 year silence we feel the time is right for another playful guerilla action against the anti smoking lobby. This time we will attempt to hijack the hashtag #stoptober on facebook and instagram.

Plan of action: Share pictures of the cigars you smoke in october on your personal FB page and instagram account and add #stoptober as a comment. When posting on your FB page make sure the post is set to public. Wouldn’t it be fun if people clicked the hashtag all they’ll see is pictures of cigars being smoked? 😂 We feel we actually are with great enough numbers to pull this off but please also invite other aficionados to join us.

Hopefully we can be as successful as with our last playful guerilla action in 2015 against an anti-smoking group that was protesting at Intertabac that year.

As you may remember we hijacked their Facebook page by bombing it with selfies in which we enjoyed our beloved cigars. This is what their paged looked like: http://docdro.id/atjcZ7l

When you scroll through the 137 document keep in mind their page was suposed to be anti tobacco. 😂 They haven’t been protesting at Intertabac in 2016 en 2017. 😂

Let’s see if we can be just as successful.”

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Montecristo ‘A’

Years and years ago, before I discovered that Cuban cigars and me aren’t a match made in heaven and that I prefer Nicaraguans better I ran into this Montecristo A in a shop in Antwerp, Belgium. It was Huis Verloo, a very renowned shop that is now part of the Davidoff group but back then it was independent and a must visit for every cigar and liquor aficionado due to their huge collection in both items. Now as I said, it was a long time ago and even though I wasn’t a knowledgeable as I am nowadays I knew I had to buy that cigar as it was pretty rare and hard to find as this was pre La Casa del Habano in the Benelux era. I don’t have the box code for the cigar as I did not understand the importance of that either back then, but it is at least 7 years old and I haven’t had the courage to smoke it but today that’s going to change. I’m going to light it and review it.


The cigar is the longest Habanos in production I think as this Gran Corona measures 9.3 inch and it has a 47 ring gauge. Now I smoked a few ‘A’ sized cigars before and I always liked the size. The construction feels ok, there is a little bit of a soft spot at a third but not too much too really complain about, the overal look is good also due to the nicely glued triple cap. The ring is the classic, simple Montecristo brown ring with white letters that has been copied so often. The wrapper is a nice medium brown with tooth and due to the tooth it feels like fine sanding paper. I smell a mild vanilla and wood aroma.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw surprised me, guess this is a lucky day because the draw is flawless. I taste a spicy and peppery hay flavor before I lit the cigar with a soft flame lighter. Those flavors are gone the moment the flame hits the tobacco, it’s all leather then. Due to the size the smoke feels cool in my mouth. After a centimeter I taste leather but with a tiny hint of orange. The structure of the flavors feel creamy. The leather is slowly getting stronger and the orange is gone in a few puffs.  Still in the first third I get a minty flavor with the leather. The draw starts to get a little tight so I cut the cigar to widen the opening compared to the punched hole and that solves the issue. It’s still mainly leather and the minty flavor now also has a hint of orange again.


After a third I the leather fades away a bit and I taste a mild chocolate with the leather. The cigar also has some pepper and a fresh aftertaste. Halfway I taste toast with leather and pepper. Soon after the toast changes to wood, with still leather and pepper. After two thirds I taste nuts with a good amount of pepper.


I’m very happy with the great draw, I’ve had lesser experiences especially with Cuban cigars. The smoke is thin though and low in quantity too. The ash is salt and pepper colored, you can clearly see the layers in the ash and it’s reasonable firm. The burn is straight and slow. The cigar is medium to medium plus bodied with a full flavor. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, and that has nothing to do with this cigar but I’m not taking a risk of buying a very expensive cigar with my bad experiences with Cuban quality control. On a regular priced cigar I’m willing to take a risk but in crazy €50 or more price tags I won’t.

Score: 88

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Categories: 88, Montecristo (Habanos), Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigar of the month September

It’s the end of the month, so it’s time to publish my list. What’s the best cigar I rated this month and what’s the worst?

The cigar with the highest rate in September  is:

My Father Commemorate 911 Rosado Habano

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) My Father Commemorate 911 Robusto (Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Torpedo (Honduras) 93 points
3) La Flor Dominicana Airbender Lancero (Dominican Republic) 92 points
4) Rocky Patel Royale Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
5) Undercrown Shade Flying Pig (Nicaragua) 91 points
6) Cornelius & Anthony Venganza Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) Arturo Fuente Opus X BBMF (Dominican Republic) 90 points
8) H. Upmann Mag 46 (Cuba) 89 points
9) Bunch Toro (Nicaragua) 88 points
10) Vega Fina Summum 2013 Toro (Dominican Republic) 87 points
11) Bunch Robusto (Nicaragua) 84 points
12) Amero Short Robusto (Dominican Republic) 82 points
13) Bunch Short Robusto (Nicaragua) 82 points

 

 

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Undercrown Shade Flying Pig

Last march I published a review of the Undercrown Flying Pig, original release, and it became the Cigar of the month march. Soon after that someone with ties either to Drew Estate or their local distributer Royal Agio contacted me (I of course know who he is and for whom he works, but I won’t disclose that information on his request) and asked me if he could use that review since the cigar was being re-released in The Netherlands and that was fine by me, as it would help promote my blog too so a fine win-win.


During our chat he asked me if I had smoked the Undercrown Shade Flying Pig and since they haven’t been released in The Netherlands I could only reply negative. He offered to send me one as a thank you which I gladly accepted. A few months earlier I would have declined due to the wrapper but recently I’ve been starting to enjoy Connecticut Shade wrappers and this cigar is made with an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Sumatra binder and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Not too long after a package arrived with 2 Balmoral Anejo Lanceros (cigar of the month May), two Kentucky Fire Cured Robusto and two of the Undercrown Shade Flying Pigs.


Lets start with the construction, it is immaculate and there are bonus points for the unique shape.  I love the little bomb size with the pig tail. The name is an inside joke, when Drew Estate started a lof of people in the industry said that “this company will make it when pigs fly” so after Drew Estate became an established company JD decided to name a cigar ‘Flying Pig” as a nod to the people that expected him to fail. The wrapper is pale with quite some shine and a few veins. I love the ring, I like the color scheme better than on the original Underground. The ring is white with the logo and all the details in gold and a second white ring with a golden outline and golden letters Shade. The ring print quality is high too. The aroma quite strong for a Connecticut Shade cigar with hints of straw, hay, leafs and grass.


I cut the cigar with my xikar butterfly cutter since punching wasn’t an option due to the pig tail. The cold draw is fantastic and tastes like raisin and hay. After lighting I taste a earthy flavor with a hint of pepper. I also taste some freshness and sweetness. After a third the cigar gets spicy and quite strong for a Shade cigar. I still taste the earthy flavor but with a little mustiness that belongs to Connecticut Shade wrappers with some lemon, salt and a strong pepper aftertaste. These flavors stick with the cigar till the end.


The smoke is typical Drew Estate, full, thick and a lot of it. And I love it. The draw is great, almost perfect. The burn needed a little touch up though. The white ash is firm and beautiful. The cigar is medium bodied and full flavored, stronger than I expected from a Connecticut Shade cigar. The smoke time is almost an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? They aren’t available here, and I prefer the Undercrown Flying Pig but this is a good stick.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I love this industry

I mentioned it a few times, I used to work in the cigar industry as a sales rep, in The Netherlands and that’s not one of the biggest markets out there. And because of my work I met a lot of cigar manufacturers, either in Europe or at their factories in Nicaragua.

What strikes me, amazes me actually, is the way the manufacturers treat me and that amazed me again last weekend at Intertabac. I mean, I was just a sales rep in a small country yet when I walked onto the trade show floor A.J. Fernandez spotted me and started waving at me trying to get my attention instead of the other way around, José Oliva whom I hadn’t seen in years walks up to me, at the Cigar Journal award show Alejandro Turrent walks over to me to say hi instead of the other way around, Frederik Vandemeliere (J. Cortes) takes a selfie with me on his phone and a few years ago Nick Perdomo tapped me on my shoulder to introduce his wife Janine to me. Those are just a few of the times where I thought “this should be the other way around”.

I love this industry, I love the warmth, the people, I made real friends in the years that I was lucky enough to be part of this industry.

Here are a few pictures I took at Intertabac, I missed a lot of photo opportunities because I usually don’t like them, but hey, once in a blue moon right?

 

And a big thank you for Sam Morales & Jessi Flores for hooking me up with two unique pieces of art for my man cave

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H. Upmann magnum 46

Some time ago my buddy Nasier, who works at one of the best tobacconists in Amsterdam and the one with the coolest lounge Van Lookeren, came to dinner (red lentil soup, chicken fajitas and a mango puree with whipped cream and roasted almond shavings if you wondered what I prepared) and we smoked a few cigars. He gifted me this H. Upmann 46 from July 2014 that I saved for a review and a Ramon Allones Specially Selected Robusto Corto Edicion Regionales Paises Bajos which I smoked on the spot.

 


Now many of you don’t know this, and might not even expect this since I’ve shown a preference to Nicaraguan tobacco on almost every occasion I get, but I started out with Cuban cigars on a trip to Asia, at Singapore Changi airport I bought some Cohiba, Montrecristo and Romeo y Julieta cigars that I all smoked during my stay in Indonesia and on my way back I maxed out my creditcard on singles and fivers at the airport again on Cuban cigars. Once I smoked all them I went online and bought my first full box: H. Upmann Coroja Major, the ones in the silver tubes before they restyled them. I still have a soft spot for that brand, even thought I hardly smoke Cubans anymore and think they are overrated and overpriced. There is no denying that Cuban cigars once were the best but that ship has sailed for now and as a lover of the leaf I dislike that a lot, it would be better for everybody if the Cubans raised to the level they once reached.

 


Now back to this cigar, it has a milk chocolate brown colored wapper with a mild shine. And I am worried since there is a little bulge near the head of the cigar that could possibly be a plug. The aroma is faint, a bit of a forrest in the fall aroma with lots of intensity. The cigar has a double ring, the bottom ring is a bright red ring with white pinstripes and white lettering saying Magnum 46 and some gold colored decorative figures. The top ring is white with golden outlines and a red circle that shows the H Upmann logo with white letters and gold colored decoration. The gold really pops, its a well printed ring and since they used the same red in both rings they match very well.

 


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is good, a little on the tight side but still good so my fear that there would be a plug was unfounded. I can’t get a real taste from the cold draw. My trusted vintage Ronson helped me light the cigar. The first thing I taste is leather with some coffee. After a centimeter I also taste a honey like sweetness with the leather and the coffee.

The wrapper cracks open in one side which hasn’t happened to me for a long time, must be a construction error. The flavor has changed to cedar with leather and a herbal flavor. Halfway the cigar gets a little stronger with leather with a little spice and a fresh aftertaste. After three quarters I taste a mild chocolate and freshness on a bed of cedar and a little bit of pepper.

 


The cigar produces a medium amount of quite thin smoke. The ash is light gray with black smears. The ash is also dense and firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The cigar is subtle and well balanced. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s a good cigar but Cubans aren’t my thing anymore.

Score: 89

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Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, H. Upmann (Habanos), H. Upmann Factory | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rocky Patel Royale Robusto

Back in the day, while I was working for a cigar distributer I ran into Rocky Patel at Intertabac. At that time Rocky didn’t have a distributer in The Netherlands, a small player was interested but I snatched Rocky away from him and brought him to us. And we did quite alright, Rocky wasn’t our biggest selling brand but it was getting momentum and we did some great events with his European director Kolja Kukuk and even Rocky managed to do a few events in The Netherlands and it was always fun.


One of the cigars I smoked most was this Rocky Patel Royale, made in his Nicaraguan factory, a factory I visited, with an Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper and filler tobacco from Nicaragua and Honduras. This cigar made it to the top 10 of Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 a few years ago and I did do a review of the toro some time ago but have never reviewed the robusto and never done a review with my 100 point scoring system so here we go.


When I release the 5×52 box pressed cigar from the cellophane I notice a beautiful, dark, mild toothy and oily wrapper that just looks amazing. The construction fels great and the triple cap looks good too. The ring is beautiful, golden with a dark reddish brown color writing and RP logo although the print quality could be a little better around the letters. The second, smaller ring, is in the exact same style and says Royale. Simple yet tasteful. And the aroma is strong and a classic stable and barnyard smell.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is perfect and flavorful. I taste hay, raisin and wood. After lighting I taste coffee and peanuts. Slowly I start tasting herbs and pepper too while the coffee disappears. After a third it’s spicy green herbs with some peanut, salt and pepper. Halfway there is a stronger nut, not just peanuts, flavor with a hint of chocolate and still the green herbs with some white pepper. The pepper slowly builds up to a nice and strong flavor.


The draw is fantastic, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is thick and full. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is good yet not perfect. This cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again?  Yes, I will always have some in stock.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Rocky Patel, Tavicusa | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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