Posts Tagged With: 94

Mi Querida SakaKhan

When I met Steve Saka at the Intertabac Trade show he gave me two cigars, the Sobremesa Short Churchill, which I reviewed back in January and rated 93, and this 7×50 Mi Querida Churchill nicknamed SakaKhan. Now I’m looking forward to smoke this beautiful looking cigar with the Connecticut River Valley broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos but for this review I decided to google some background information and I glad I did otherwise I would have been writing some wrong information here, for example naming the wrong manufacturer.


I know Steve has tight connections with the guys at Joya de Nicaragua, I know Juan Martinez pretty well and he always praised working with Steve. When Steve Saka was CEO at Drew Estate they started working together with a distribution deal in the USA where Drew Estate up till today is distributing Joya as well and Joya producing some cigars for Drew Estate at their facilities, and once he started his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust he went to Joya for the Sobremesa. So I was surprised to find out that the Mi Querida isn’t produced by Joya but by NACSA, a manufacturer that produces for more companies, for example they also produce Asylum for Christian Eiroa & Tom Lazuka’s Asylum Cigars. I asked Steve why and he explained that he picks the factory that suits the best for that specific blend, and in this case it was NACSA.


The cigar looks majestic, the combination of the length, the dark smooth wrapper with the flattened veins, the beautiful triple cap and the simple yet tasteful ring just scream elegance yet power. This is a cigar I would pick at the cigar shop if I didn’t know anything about cigars and just shopped on appearance. The ring is dark blue with thick golden outline and a swirly font saying Mi Querida in gold as well. The ring has gear wheel like edges that set it apart from all other simple bands and can only be done on thick paper. The construction feels great, evenly filled, not too soft or too hard. The cigar has a mild ammonia and forest aroma. I punched the cigar and get a good cold draw with a peppery flavor. My trusted Ronson varaflame lit the cigar.


Right from the start i taste a very pleasant coffee flavor with sweetness, like espresso with a sugar cube. After a centimeter the flavor is woody, with some caramel and some pepper. Slowly i start to taste spices too. After a third the cigar gets sweeter. The flavors are not strong but so beautifully balanced, it’s amazing. Halfway I taste chocolate with a little cayenne pepper. There is also a honey like sweetness along with the other flavors. The sweet chocolate is getting stronger. After two thirds I taste some dark wood again, mild spicy, honey and a very mild citrus. Near the end the flavors all grow in strength with a nice, balanced dose of pepper. The last centimeter is pepper and nuts.


The smoke is medium thick at the start but is slowly gets thicker. The draw is great. The white ash is beautifully layered with some black smears. The burn is slow and just a little bit off. This medium full bodied and full flavored, extremely well balanced cigar gave me two and a half hours of cigar enjoyment.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, I thought there wasn’t much room for improvement at the Sobremesa but this Mi Querido is even better.

Score: 94

94
edit: Steve Saka responded to the review on Facebook: “The manufacturer is NACSA – a very well known factory in our industry for producing value priced cigars. About 2 years ago they decided they really wanted to step up their game which included a total retrofit of their facility, a wholesale change over of their top and key personnel and the decision to work with a total pain in the a$$ – me. Many people in the industry said I was crazy, but imo they are just lazy and do not understand potential or what is needed to push a factory into being its best. I got the wacky-tabacy factory to make Liga Privada, while JDN has been a great factory on their own merits I was able to get them to expand their horizons flavor and blending wise, so working to improve an economy factory into becoming a factory that could craft true premiums was a walk-in-the-park particularly since they wanted to change, to do more and they took aggressive action to do so… many people forget that master cigar makers like Fuente and Padron originally started out as bundle cigar operations. And through hard work and dedication to the craft they have become two of the very best in the world. IMO, Mi Querida is the finest cigar every produced at NACSA, but it will not be their last – they have the right people and practices in place now to make exceptional handmade premiums in addition to maintaining their value priced production cigars.”

Categories: 94, Mi Querida, Nicaragua American Cigars S.A., Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigar of the month July

Late 2016 I had the plan to post a review every Wednesday and every Sunday in 2017 with an added review on the 15th of each month as a series of Lancero reviews but I reviewed so many cigars that I had to post more, so for a few cigars I did a ‘full series review in one’, I added a few special dates to commemorate certain people, celebrate birthdays, last month I did a full week of review and this month I posted two extra Oliva Master Blend reviews so that the 1, 2 and 3 were posted in line. So, just like last month, there are more cigars rated this month than I expected to do. And the first 4 cigars all came very close to each other, with just tenths of a points in difference.

The cigar with the highest rate in July is:

Oliva Master Blend 1 Churchill with a 94 score.

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published at Cigarguideblog in July:

1) Oliva Master Blend 1 Churchill (Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Oliva Master Blend 2 Robusto (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak A (Nicaragua) 94 points
4) Ilja VII by My Father A (Nicaragua) 94 points
5) Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Sumatra Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) Oliva Master Blend 3 Torpedo (Nicaragua) 92 points
7) Illusione ~hl~ Maduro Lancero (Honduras) 92 points
8) Lars Tetens Steampunk Toro (USA) 92 points
9) Don Pepin Garcia series JJ Maduro Toro (Nicaragua) 91 points
10) Puros de Hostos Box Pressed Toro (Dominican Republic) 91 points
       Vegas de Santiago D8 Robusto (Costa Rica) 91 points
12) Puros de Hostos Churchill (Dominican Republic) 91 points
13) Romeo y Julieta #2 Tubo (Cuba) 87 points
14) Padilla Artisan Perfecto (Nicaragua) 87 points
15) Te Amo World Selection Series Nicaraguan Blend Robusto (Mexico) 86 points
16) Te Amo World Selection Series Mexican Blend Robusto (Mexico) 85 points
17) Te Amo World Selection Series Honduran Blend Robusto (Mexico) 80 points
18) Te Amo World Selection Series Cuban Blend Robusto (Mexico) 79 points
19) Te Amo World Selection Series Dominican Blend Robusto (Mexico) 76 points

 

 

 


The first 12 cigars all rated 91 or higher, with two cigars with the exact same score on the 10th spot. The complete top 12 I would smoke again with pleasure. Number 14 on the list is one of the best looking cigars I ever smoked though but the top 6 are all limited editions that cannot be bought anymore.

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Oliva Master Blend 2 Robusto

I explained the history on the Oliva Master Blend series in the review of the Master Blend 1 Churchill which I posted yesterday so I won’t repeat myself on the limited tobacco story. Where the Master Blend 1 was released in 2003, the Master Blend 2 came out in 2005. Where the Master Blend 1 saw a production of 375,000 cigars the Master Blend 2 is even more limited with 120,000 cigars, 2,000 boxes of each size.


Now I have a bundle of the private stock of the Oliva family, those are not tattooed but I also had a commercial released one with the tattoo. The tattoo is beautiful but Oliva stopped with tattooing the cigars because it caused at least a 10% damage rate in perfectly good cigars, costing a lot of money and wasting a lot of good tobacco.


The first difference I notice is the ring, its almost identical except it has a 2 right above the half circle cut out and the total production is on the side instead the back. The wrapper is more rustic, thick with veins and discolorations but the tattoo makes up for it. The construction is flawless, again the box pressed with rounded corners like in the Master Blend 1 review and a well placed cap. The aroma is strong, cocoa mixed with hay and straw, very nice.


I punched the cigar. The raisin flavored cold draw is fine. I lit this vintage cigar with a vintage lighter, soft flame. I taste coffee with sugar and lemon, the aftertaste is red pepper. After half an inch I taste earth with a little lemon and a faint of chocolate accompanied by a peppery aftertaste. After a third I taste earth with a little nutmeg, lime, salt and pepper. The flavors change to cedar, soil, chocolate, salt and pepper. The final third starts nutty with salt and a nice dose of pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper slowly grows and I taste a hint of mint too.


I found that the draw was close to perfect. The ash is light gray with thick layers. The ash is firm too. The smoke is medium thick, I would have liked a little more of it though. The burn is beautiful. The cigar has a slow but steady evolution, its complex and medium bodied while being medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish!

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Oliva Master Blend 1 Churchill

Tobacco growing companies often experiment with tobacco, new crops, hybrid tobaccos etcetera and sometimes with fantastic tobacco as a result but those tobaccos aren’t always suitable for further exploitation maybe because of a low yield or that they are prone to disease. Oliva is one of the companies that both grows and makes cigars and in 2000 they had crop of experimental tobacco. They decided to put a Habano wrapper around it and called it “Master Blend 1”, with a total limited production of 5,000 boxes in three sizes (robusto, torpedo and Churchill), so 15,000 in total and released it in 2003.


Now these cigars are nowhere to be found anymore but I have a friend at the factory and when she came over for a trip to Amsterdam I offered her my guest bedroom which she gladly accepted. As a gift she brought me a bundle of Master Blend 1 Churchills, Master Blend 2 Robusto and Special S Perfecto. She knew I wanted the Master Blends, I begged her for those both of the times I visited the factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Now the Master Blend 1 and 2 that were commercially released have a tattoo on the wrapper but the ones I got don’t have the tattoo, they were rolled and stored for personal use of the Oliva family.


The cigar has a nice colored habano wrapper, medium dark, silky with one vein but its been pressed before rolling so it doesn’t destroy the look of the cigar. The ring is gorgeous, burgundy red with golden details and letters, a green picture of tobacco fields and at the back is says the total production of 375,000 cigars. At the bottom of the ring there is a half circle cut out for the tattoo, that is missing on my specimen but I explained why. I love the shape of the cigar, its box pressed but with rounded edges, therefore it falls in between what you would expect with a box pressed cigar and a regular cigar shape. The construction feels great too, a bit hard but evenly packed with a nice placed cap. The smell is still strong after all these years and is a strong barnyard aroma.


I punched the cigar and the draw is a little tight, so I might have to cut it later. I taste hay and raisin. I lit the cigar with my soft flame. After lighting I taste raisin and floral flavors with a little pepper. After and inch I taste floral flavors with nutmeg, toast and white pepper. I also taste some walnut. Halfway I taste nuts, some chocolate, some mild pepper, cedar. The age took care of any harshness, this cigar is so smooth without becoming dull. The final third is a smooth nut with a little bit of white pepper and a hint of nutmeg. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is thick, white and full in volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is smooth, complex and if I had smoked this blind I would have known that it is a vintage cigar. I would call it medium bodied and medium to medium full flavored but very smooth. The smoking time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish. Maybe I can bribe my friend at the factory with some stroopwafels.

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Ilja VIII

For the last few months I’ve been posting my reviews every wednesday, sunday and 15h of the month plus on april 17, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my blog. So today shouldn’t be a review day but I decided to review a special cigar, the Ilja VIII. Now those of you that don’t know the story behind the Ilja cigars, it is a sad story. Ilja van Horssen was a third generation tobacco wholesaler, his grandfather started a wholesale company in dry cigars and roll your own tobacco, his father build the company further up and Ilja and his younger brother Sasja started working for the Van Horssen BV company too. About 20 years ago they saw the future of the cigars in The Netherlands and decided to start a new source of income for the company: premium longfiller cigars from the Caribbean. So they started ‘Longfiller Company’ under the J. van Horssen BV umbrella. A few years later Ilja left the company to start his own retail store, Cuesta Rey, in The Hague and also bought the famous Dutch Brand G. de Graaff and the shop with the same name. Ilja created a huge reputation for himself because he was able to find many hard to get cigars that even his brother Sasja, as the official distributer for those brands like Fuente and Padron, couldn’t even get his hands on. Sounds like a success story right? Here’s the downer, Ilja got sick and died way too young at age 36 on july 14 2006, leaving two young children and his wife behind. His widow ran the shop for a number of years before she turned into the first La Casa del Habano in The Netherlands, the LCDH The Hague.


To commemorate his brother Sasja decided to release a hard to find cigar every year, 36 boxes as Ilja only made it till 36, and the proceedings would go to charity. After a few years the concept changed a little, the cigars are now released on a special event, invitation only and you can only buy one of the boxes if you’re invited to that event by Sasja personally, the proceedings still go to charity though, to Pronica. Now I’m not part of the family, but I’ve worked close with the family for some years and was even involved with some of the Ilja cigars, like the Ilja VI (Liga Privada A), this Ilja VIII and the Ilja IV. If you’re afraid that I’m bias because of this, don’t worry, I wasn’t involved in the blending process, I only asked the manufacturers what they could do for the Ilja cigar and picked sizes. When I was in Nicaragua early 2014 I had a meeting with Rosa Vilchez, our contact within My Father Cigars, and I asked her if My Father Cigars could do something for the next Ilja. She called Jaime, who was in Miami at the time and immediately they agreed, they were actually honored to be asked and came up with a new blend and in an 9 1/4×48 A size like I requested. The cigars are all bunched and rolled by Jaime and his father Don Pepin self. I wanted to review this cigar for a while and what date is more suitable to post than the 14th of july, the day Ilja moved on. If you want a full list on the Ilja releases, check out Halfwheel (and add a Joya de Nicaragua twist on the cuatro cinco blend to the list as Ilja IV).


The cigar has a dark chocolate color with beautiful small veins and a triple cap, just the looks of the wrapper makes my saliva work. The wrapper feels leathery and the cigar has a strong barnyard aroma with a little acidity and ammonia even though it’s 2 years old. The construction feels good and the band, what can I say? The ring is so personal for the family, the picture of Ilja, the quality of the printing is great, and I mean, I know the family so well, I know how much this ring means to them, how hard it was for Sasja to do see the rings roll of the press the first time and color proof it, I can only give it the full amount of points available in my rating system. The cold draw is great and I taste raisin in the front of my mouth and spices in the back of my throat.


The first flavor I get is a nice sweetened coffee and I smell a nice pepper without breaking out in a sneeze. I also taste some honey and some vanilla. After a centimeter I taste chocolate, dark chocolate like I’m sucking on a small piece and the flavor is sticking to the top of my throat. After an inch I still taste the chocolate but now with cedar and a little bit of chili. Slowly the flavors change to a charred woody barbecue flavor with a hint of lime but still with a little bit of chocolate although is fading away.

After a third the chocolate is back, a bit sweeter this time and with some spicy toast on the back. The overall feeling of the flavors is meaty. There is also still a lime flavor, slowly that acidity grows a little bit. The flavors are now creamy, like ice cream with a hint of vanilla and some chocolate. The aftertaste is still a bit barbecue like. The spicy barbecue flavor is the main flavor after I reach the halfway point but I taste a nice honey and chocolate flavor every time i take a sip of water and over the duration of this cigar I almost drank a liter of water. After two thirds I get a lot more pepper with a smoky flavor soon to be accompanied by a raspberry vinegar. I’m still having that tasting chocolate after water experience. Near the end i also taste spices and herbs with an oaky aftertaste. The last few puffs give me salted nuts, macadamia and hazelnut with a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is great, the smoke is cool due to the length of the cigar. The smoke starts out relatively thin, but beautifully blue white and decent amount. The smoke slowly gets thicker. The ash is light colored and firm. The burn is straight as a line. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. It’s a long smoke but it never gets boring. The cigar lasted me 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Unfortunately that’s no longer possible but I know Sasja has plans to release this blend in a robusto and gordo size in the near future.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, My Father, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

La Sagrada Familia Robusto

La Sagrada Familia, you might only know that name as the masterpiece of Spanish architect and artist Antoni Gaudi, since late 2016 its also a cigar brand from a Dutch entrepreneur, Tom Mulder, who blended this cigar with the master blenders at Joya de Nicaragua, the factory where his cigars are being made. Now I have known Tom for years, I tried several test blends, smoked the pre-release and I was there when he and Sasja van Horssen (cigar distributor in The Netherlands, owner of Cigaragua, the worlds only “all Nicaraguan” cigar shop) talks about making a brand together, later on they decided it was better if Tom did the brand on his own. From day one the idea was to give a donation to a Nicaraguan charity for each cigar sold, an idea that eventually evolved into pronica but that didn’t stop Tom from still donating $0.10 per cigar sold to another charity, a project with single mothers that recycle paper into postcards but his charity will change every year. My idea of including a postcard in every box didn’t make the final cut, still think it would be a nice touch but it was too complicated to make it happen Tom told me. In another conversation I heard them brainstorm on how to get the message across on the charity, and what charity Tom picks every year because advertising tobacco isn’t allowed in The Netherlands and Tom can’t make a La Sagrada Familia website. I interupted them and asked “what about just a charity website?” and that’s what happened (click here).


Now the cigar, it is a 5×50 robusto, there is also a 6×50 toro and a 6×60 gordo, and its made with Nicaraguan habano from different regions as binder and filler with an Ecuadorean habano as a wrapper. I know this isn’t the exact same blend as the test blend that was chosen or the pre release versions I smoked, later in the process Tom decided to change the wrapper to the Ecuadorean habano that is used now. The cigars are cellophane wrapped and this robusto has a €8 price tag in The Netherlands. I took the cigar out of the cellophane and feel a silky smooth wrapper that looks good, a few thin vins and its quite oily, the color is medium light, like the crust on a loaf of white bread. The cigar feels firm, well packed and has a nice cap. The ring looks big, but actually isn’t, I don’t know what it is, the color scheme or the design, I don’t know but it looks bigger to me than it is. The base colors of the ring are a dark blue and gray/silver that are supported by two thin white lines. On the front there is white lettering with the La Sagrada Familia name and a silver logo that represents the La Sagrada Familia towers in Barcelona but instantly made me say Rolex. I don’t know if Rolex used the La Sagrada Familia for inspiraton but the resemblance is striking. On the sides it says handmade and nicaragua in blue letters. Its a nice ring but it could use a bit more finesse to make it really pop since the design is also quite simple. The aroma is medium strong and warm, no ammonia at all, just hay, wood and sawdust.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste hay with raisin and a little bit of white pepper on the background. I light the cigar with a soft flame and taste espresso with a hint of licorice. The licorice disappears quickly and after a centimeter I taste coffee with a faint chocolate flavor. Soon after I taste white pepper with some wood. After a third the pepper is pleasantly strong with a mild lemon in the aftertaste. I also taste the licorice on the tip of my tongue again but it’s faint yet very pleasant. Later on its pepper with leather, the leather is cubanesque but the pepper makes it too strong and too flavorful to be Cuban and that’s a good thing in my book. I also taste a wood flavor.


The smoke is rich and full, just the way I like it and the draw is perfect. The ash is light colored, firm and dense. The burn is straight as can be. This cigar is full bodied and certainly full flavored. The evolution is good. The smoke time is an hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? No doubt, this will be a staple in my humidor.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, La Sagrada Familia, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cigar of the month January

Over the last month I reviewed 9 cigars with my new 100 point rating system and the cigar of the month january is:

Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Toro with a 94! score

I’ve been rating cigars with my 100 point rating system for a month and I must admit that I was worried it wouldn’t work after my first two cigars because both rated high in the 90 but then the third cigar proved that my rating system is spot on for me. Ofcourse its new to me so it needs a little fine tuning but overall I can say that it works quite well and I’m happy I changed to this 100 point system.

Now as for the complete list of cigars I smoked in January for Cigarguideblog:
1) Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Toro (USA) 94 points
2) Sobremesa Short Churchill (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Padron 1926 #1 Double Corona (Nicaragua) 91 points
4) Nicoya Medios Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
5) Splendid Robusto (Dominican Republic) 91 points
6) Cain F Lancero (Nicaragua) 90 points
7) Paradiso (San Cristobal) Quintessence Epicure (Nicaragua) 90 points
8) Santiago Maduro Robusto (Nicaragua) 90 points
9) Joya Black Robusto (Nicaragua) 89 points

El Titan de Bronze made a great cigar for Cornelius & Anthony and Sandy Cobas and her team live up to the reputation they earned over the years as top quality cigar manufacturers.

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Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Toro

A few years ago, while working for a cigar importer/distributer I met Courtney Smith who was working for one of the brands we distributed, La Palina. Courtney left La Palina, I left the company I was working for but at intertabac last September we ran into each other again. Courtney gave me a few cigars of the company she’s with now, Cornelius & Anthony. I smoked most at the show but kept a few samples for reviews.

Cornelius & Anthony is quite new to the premium cigar game but not new to the tobacco industry. The family behind the brand has been growing tobacco in Virginia for over 150 years and 5th generation Steven Anthony Bailey decided it was time to branch out to the premium cigar business and honoring the first Bailey to enter the business he named the brand after him: Cornelius and added his own second name Anthony to it. They came out with 4 lines, 3 made in La Zona in Esteli, Nicaragua and one by El Titan de Bronze in Miami. And the last one I’ll be reviewing today. The line is called Cornelius and the cigar is made from Nicaraguan and Dominican filler with a binder and wrapper from Ecuador. I smoked the 6×50 toro. The band is very detailed and beautifully designed, just like the artwork on the boxes. The wrapper has a beautiful color, only a few small veins, a light shine and a silky feel. The triple cap on the well rounded head finishes the looks of the cigar. There is a distinct barnyard aroma. The construction feels good and the cold draw, that leaves me with some pepper on my lips, is flawless.

Lighting the cigar with my trusted vintage Ronson soft flame is very easy and at first I taste a nice full but medium coffee flavor and after a few puffs I also taste a nice nuttiness. After half an inch it’s still mainly coffee what I taste. The nuttiness disappeared but I taste some spices instead and some pepper on my lips.

After a third i taste a nice wooden flavor, the coffee is completely gone. I also taste a nice amount of chili pepper. Halfway the pepper mellows out, it doesn’t disappear but it’s not as strong as before. There is still wood though. After two thirds I still taste wood with some pepper but there is a nice fresh minty aftertaste that I like a lot. At the end I taste some nuts again.

The burn is straight with a beautiful light colored ash. The draw is fantastic, just the right amount of resistance. The cigar is medium bodied and it gave me a nice amount of thick smoke. The ash is reasonable firm, but not firm enough for a long ash competition. The cigar is well balanced, the body – flavor ratio is spot on. The cigar lasted me for over an hour and a forty five minutes and I needed to bring out my cool JSK nub tool.

Would I buy this cigar again? If only they were for sale in Europe, which will probably never happen due to high import taxes on tobacco shipped from the USA.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, American cigars, Cornelius & Anthony, Tabacalera El Titan de Bronze | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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