Posts Tagged With: 89

Ortega Wild Bunch Island Jim Wahoo

Eddie Ortega is a cigar industry veteran and in his years in the industry he met a lot of characters so in 2012 he came up with this idea of a limited edition each month for 2013, all named after one of the characters he met along his journey through the tobacco industry and he named them the Dirty Dozen. Then Drew Estate amicably asked him to change the name just as they did with Alec Bradley’s dirty hooligan because of their Dirty Rat cigar and just like Alan Rubin before Ortega decided to change the name into the Wild Bunch, but the idea stayed the same.

Now these were all micro releases and by the time I visited the USA a lot of them were sold out so I won’t be reviewing the whole series, just the ones that I was able to get my hands on and still have in my possession. I miss a few, namely Crazy Jack, Honest Abe, Tony the Boss, Warrior Joe and Big Bad John although I reviewed the Crazy Jack before in my old rating system. I will post the 7 other reviews in line, one each day, for the next week.

Island Jim Wahoo


The march release of the wild bunch is a tribute to Island Jim Robinson, a shop owner in Pittsburgh. The cigar is a 6 1/2×52 toro that is made at My Father Cigars with Nicaraguan filler and binder and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The wrapper has a nice coffee color with some darker smudges and flattened veins, it’s quite oily. The construction gives a little and the cap is placed perfectly. The ring is in the same style as the Iron Mike one, so red with a blue cartoon, this time of Island Jim and a banner with the name. For the banner color Cigart picked a light yellow. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay and ammonia.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is great, I taste sultanas. After lighting I taste a fresh coffee flavor.  After half an inch I taste a floral flavor. The floral flavor gets stronger with a little spice and citrus. After a third the cigar gets peppery with honey. Halfway I taste a muted cedar with lemon. The pepper fades away and after a third I taste cedar, wood, fennel and some anise.


The draw is great. The ash is almost white, dense and firm. The burn is good and the smoke is medium full. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with a decent evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? That’s impossible.

Score: 89
number89

 

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Categories: 89, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Ortega | 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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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

89

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

La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’or No.3

When I started smoking cigars I was a fat guy, 400lbs/180kg, and I liked big cigars, robusto or thicker and refused to smoke thin cigars as I didn’t have the skills to truly enjoy them yet and because of the way it looked, I had a bowling ball shaped face and a thin cigar just looked strange I thought. But the owner of the shop that I frequented all the time, Marjolein Hartman from Hartman Cigars & More in Amsterdam, kept saying I needed to try this Cuban slim panetela, the La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’or #3. I said no a few times but because I trusted her judgement and knowledge I finally bought one and lit it. That cigar was a game changer for me, so flavorful, so dynamic and thats when I fell in love with thin cigars. I smoked the cigar in the shop and brought the box home, the box date was June 2002. This review is the last cigar I had left from that specific box.


Now back the bigger vs smaller ring cigars. I keep hearing that the popularity of big ring gauge cigars is because people get more tobacco for their money but I disagree. At Intertabac 2016 I had an interesting conversation with Steve Saka as he disagrees too but we both have a slightly different reason. Steve says its because most of the modern cigars aren’t mild to medium but medium plus to full bodied the bigger ring gauges, that tend to be milder compared to the thinner cigars, are more popular because they are milder and thats still a major part of the consumer base. I say its because a thicker cigar is easier to smoke, the burning temperature is lower so the cigar won’t overheat and won’t turn bitter (exactly the same reason why I always direct novice smokers to a robusto or thicker). On the other hand, why do other people love thin cigars so much? Because the wrapper to filler ratio is much better, wrapper gives the most flavor to a cigar, up to 80% sometimes, and if you have less filler you taste more of the wrapper plus the cigar gets way more dynamic, more evolution but you have to smoke slowly to prevent the cigar from overheating. It takes experience and skill to truly enjoy a thin cigar.


Now the cigar itself, as I said, it is a thin cigar, thinner than my beloved lonsdales and lanceros, much thinner with a ring gauge of 28 while a lancero has a ring gauge of 38. If you don’t know how to measure that, it is measured in 1/64 of an inch, so this cigar is 28/64 of an inch wide which is less than 2/3rd of my pink and I have slim fingers. The length is Lancero size though, close to 7 inch. The wrapper has a bit of a rustic look to it, get the band of, leave it on the grounds in the woods and you might even think it belongs there due to the veins, but I guess thats part of the charm too. The wrapper is mild oily and chocolate milk colored. The cigar feels evenly packed, well constructed and its very hard to roll a cigar this skinny and to apply a triple cap. The ring is cute, a yellow circle with the portrait of a woman in a red cape, black letters La Gloria Cuban with a relatively big golden ring around it with at the bottom black letters Habana. The sides have the golden lining too with a red and white striped pattern and two golden medals on each side. Not a spectacular ring, but the tiny size makes it very cute. The aroma is quite mild and I smell a soapy flavor, some pepper and a little bit of a barnyard.


Due to the skinny size it is impossible to punch the cigar so I grabbed my Xikar cutter to find a tight draw that has a little pepper. I lit the cigar with my soft flame and straight from the start I taste a beautiful mix of leather, coffee and a mild chocolate. After a centimeter I taste mild salty nuts. After a third third I taste some cedar, some bitter herbs and a mild metallic flavors. Halfway I am surprised by the amount of pepper I taste. After two thirds a nutty flavor joins the pepper, I also taste some salt.


Due to the difficult draw the smoke is thin too and not too much either. The ash is quite dark gray, layered and reasonably firm. The burn is straight as a line. There is a lot of evolution, as can be expected from a skinny cigar. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? They are discontinued, Habanos is moving more and more into the big ring cigars. And my preferences changed I guess, I’m not liking this as much as I used to and that counts for most Cubans.

Score: 89
89

Categories: 89, Cuban cigars, La Gloria Cubana (Habanos), Partagas Factory | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Santiago Habano Toro

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

Santiago Saturday – Santiago Habano Toro

Last september at Intertabac I met the guys from Santiago de los Caballeros cigars, a private label cigar company that have their cigars made in Esteli by the Plasencia Family. They gave me a few samplers and last January I reviewed the Santiago Maduro Robusto, last month I reviewed the Santiago Connecticut Robusto and today I’m reviewing the Habano blend in a 6×50 Toro shape. The cigar has a blend of Nicaraguan and Mexican tobacco as filler, a Nicaraguan binder and a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper. I don’t know what the MSRP for these cigars are or where they are for sale. To be honest, before I met the guys I never heard of the brand.


Now the Maduro was a pretty decent cigar, that raised my expectations for this habano. The wrapper is beautiful, very dark, mild shiny with a dry appearance. I see a few veins. The ring is beautiful, its a dark green, close to grey, with golden linings and white letters Santiago de Los Caballeros Nicaragua but what makes the band stand out is the shiny, black and slightly raised cross. The bottom ring is the same greenish gray with golden lining and blue letters Habano, something I would have done in white to make it matching. The construction feels evenly, but a little soft. The triple cap is gorgeous. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of stray on the barn floor right before it’s cleaned out after being peed on by cows all night. Now that sounds disgusting, but cigar smokers know what I mean and that its not a bad thing.


I decided to punch the cigar and I’m glad I did as the cold draw is loose, cutting it might have made the draw even easier. I taste pepper and some cocoa. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and the start is bitter. After half a centimeter the bitterness tones down to a tolerable level and I also taste some sweetness and coffee. After an inch it’s still coffee but with cocoa. Halfway the flavor reminds me of roasted nuts. The flavor remains but after two thirds it get company from pepper, mainly on my lips. With an inch and a half to go I clearly notice the turning point and I toss the cigar.


The smoke is thick, white and luscious. The draw is a little too loose for my preference. The ash is silver gray and you clearly see the layers. The ash is frayed but firm. The burn is straight. This medium plus bodied cigar is medium bodied and the smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Depends on the price, it’s a good cigar but there are many good cigars comparable to this one so the price would be a factor.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Nicaraguan cigars, Santiago | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don Labalet Robusto

After I came back from Intertabac 2016, where I met some old friends, made some new ones, I looked at all the cigars that have been given to me and cataloged them in my online humidor at Stogierate.com. Some of the cigars have been reviewed in the last few months, some others will still be reviewed. The information on most of the cigars was easy to find but I had one cigar, Don Labalet Robusto, that was just no information to be found on and I tried hard but couldn’t remember who gave it to me. And with no information I mean literally no information online I just didn’t have a clue what it was, who made it and where it was from. Fast forward two weeks later, I got a message from Kevin Dooms who works at Gajane, a distributer of premium cigars in The Netherlands, I’ve known Kevin for a few years as his parents own a nice tobacco shop in Zwijndrecht and I used to visit them as a sales rep for The Longfiller Company. At Intertabac we spoke about me being unemployed at the moment, and that I needed a contract to bring my Singaporean wife, whom I just married, over to The Netherlands.


So Kevin, his employer Steph, his colleague Cees and I meet up for lunch at their office and after lunch they give me a cigar, guess what, its a Don Labalet Robusto. And then I found out more about the cigar. Gajane is not only active in The Netherlands but also in Sweden and France and in Sweden they also produce snus (known as dip in the USA) and cigarettes. One of their employees is a Cuban refugee, Osmel Lavalier Castellanos, and it turned out that he used to be a cigar roller back in Cuba. So now, next to his regular job at Gajane, he rolls cigars for and at events. Gajane Netherlands brought him over for a few events and the moment Osmel landed at Schiphol airport he asked “do you have cigar rings?” and that was countered by “do you have a name for the cigar?”. They settled on the name Don Labalet, as that is Osmel’s second name and had bands printed quickly. As far as the blend, I have no idea what tobaccos are used for this specific cigar.


The wrapper has a milky brown wrapper and a very flat head, that makes it great to punch. There is a little damage and I can see a much darker binder. The cigar has a double band, the foot ring is bronze colored with 3 golden stars and black lettering that says “Don Labalet” while the regular ring is black with red and yellow, a white D and a black L. The construction feels great and you can see the Cuban influence in the beatiful triple cap. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma. I’m smoking this cigar during the day instead of my regular routine of reviewing in the evening.


As I said, the head is very flat so I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great, I taste a mild spicy raw tobacco flavor. I light the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. The first flavor is a mild coffee, more latte than regular coffee. After a centimeter i taste a mild and muted cinnamon and a caramel like sweetness on top of a wood flavor. After an inch I lost the caramel but instead I taste a mild milky chocolate with the wood and the muted cinnamon. Halfway it’s a dry wood, muted cinnamon and a dominant caramel sweetness again. After two thirds the wood gets replaced by nuts, the cinnamon is gone and the caramel is still dominant. Soon after there is a herbal spicy flavor too with the retuned cinnamon and the caramel. The last few puffs are peppery.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a lot of smoke. The ash is beautiful light gray, almost white, with some darker accents and quite firm. The draw is perfect and the burn is straight. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, a great morning cigar that I think, would not be suitable after a dinner. The cigar is well balanced and for an ‘event only’ cigar not related to any brand this cigar surprises me pleasantly. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? That will be impossible since its an event only cigar and I don’t know if the same sort of tobacco is available for the next event.

Score: 89

89

Categories: 89, Don Labalet, Dutch cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joya Black Robusto

Joya de Nicaragua is the oldest factory in Estelí, Nicaragua with a huge history. I’ve been blessed and had the opportunity to visit the factory several times (including a trip for the Cigaragua book by Marcel Langedijk and Jesaja Hutubessy). In 2014 Joya de Nicaragua tried to rejuvenate their look to attract a new group of aficionados with the release of the Joya Red, a cigar with a modern look and feel and it was very well received. The next step is the Joya black, a little stronger version of the Red with a Mexican San Andres Negro wrapper over Nicaraguan fillers and binder with the same sort of artwork as the Joya Red but in black of course. I smoked a few pre-releases at an event in the Netherlands a few months prior to the release at the ipcpr 2016. The 5¼x50 robusto that I’m smoking for this review I got from Juan Martínez at the Intertabac trade show in Dortmund. And to keep it all in theme I’m using my Joya de Nicaragua branded Xikar cutter and my Joya de Nicaragua stinky ashtray painted by Subculture Studios.

Let’s start with the band, that has certainly the look and feel of the successful Joya Red. The band is modern but in a way that also honors the history and the historic artwork of the older Joya de Nicaragua blends. The wrapper is dark and have a few veins, it’s evenly dark. The construction feels good, no soft spots or plugs. The cigar has a distinct aroma, barnyard but with a burned wood finish. The cold draw is good, a little of the tight side of good. I taste some dry dark chocolate.

Since I don’t have a Joya branded lighter I used my trusted vintage Ronson varaflame to light the cigar, which was pretty easy. I taste a bit of a smoky barbecue flavor, not fire cured barbecue but still. There’s also a little sugar like sweetness. The sweetness gets stronger while the barbecue fades away and makes place for a grilled chili pepper flavor.

After a third I taste the sugary sweetness (which is mild and balanced) with some wood and toast. Halfway the wood gets stronger and there is a tangy citrus flavor on my tongue. After two thirds I also taste a minty freshness in the aftertaste. The mild sugar returns near the end too.

The smoke is white, thick and abundant, 100% score on the smoke and it makes my air cleaner work overtime. The burn is good, a little crooked at the start but it corrects itself. The ash is white and quite firm. The draw is better after lighting than in the cold draw. The smoke time is about 90 minutes. I would call this cigar medium plus to full.

Would I buy this cigar again? I think I prefer the Joya Red, especially the half corona which is an amazing cigar.

Score 89

89

Categories: 89, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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