Posts Tagged With: Barry Stein

Guayacan Habano Corona

Years ago, on one of my yearly vacations to Florida, I was invited to visit Nestor Miranda & Jason Wood, whom I met at several Intertabac trade shows. I dropped by the office and met Barry Stein, a former cigar blogger turned cigar industry professional (like me) as the multimedia guy for Miami Cigar & Co. and we developed a friendship. Barry left the company and decided to re-release his own cigar brand he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co. named Kilo. I read about this on Barry’s Facebook I think March or April of 2015 so I send Barry a message asking him who’s making it. Barry’s reply was “since I haven’t announced it yet, I won’t tell but its made in Esteli” to which I reply “That’s why I’m asking, I’ll be there soon and hopefully I can mooch some as they won’t be available in The Netherlands”. So after promising I wouldn’t disclose the factory before Barry did it himself he said it was Noel Rojas, whom I never heard of by that time but Barry praised him for his blending skills. Barry got me in touch with Noel and after a few calls and text messages we made an appointment in Esteli during my stay there where Noel handed me a bundle of Kilo and Barry asked me to send pictures of the cigars with rings as he had seen the rings and smoked the cigar but never seen them together. Call me a geek, but I think it’s cool to see the finalized product before the brand owner sees it. By the way, by the time you’re reading this: Barry is now working for 2 guys smoke shop and the cigar authority and has sold the Kilo name.


So I meet up with Noel, he shows me his factory Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa, which is now his old factory as he built a new one with his business partner called Tabacalera New Order of the Ages aka NOA, we go to dinner at Restaurant Cohifer in downtown Esteli and we talk about the possibilities for Noel’s brands in The Netherlands and Belgium. Ofcourse I was only an employee so I couldn’t say yes or no there and then, I had to consult with my employer and Noel said he would send us a bunch of samplers. A few weeks later a huge box shows up from the USA and inside I found a few boxes of cigars made by Noel, some Guayacan, some Sabor de Esteli and some test blends just for fun. I had a few to my employer, hand a few to friends and kept a few for myself. Everybody agreed, good cigars, value for money so to cut a long story short: Noel’s brands are now distributed in The Netherlands but unfortunately I don’t work for that employer anymore so I can’t get them at a discounted price. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the Guayacan Habano corona, a 6×42 long cigar made from a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder (’98 Aganorsa Corojo) and Nicaraguan fillers. I promise, later this year I will also review the Guayacan Maduro, Sabor de Esteli, Kilo, Jas Sum Kral and previously I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Maduro that are also made by Tabacalera Noa.


The cigar looks great, long and lean, with a wrapper that is colored like dark oak wood. The ring is colorful, printed on thick paper and not with a straight edge. The edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, which is one of the hardest things to print as I’ve been told by people from Vrijdag Printing in Eindhoven (NL), one of the premier cigar ring printers in the world, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The construction feels great and you can see that Noel learned the trade in his home country of Cuba, which he fled on a raft in 2007, because of the beautiful triple cap. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong, without the ammonia. Since it’s a smaller ring cigar I decided to cut instead of punch and the pre light draw aka cold draw is great. I taste some cedar and plenty of spice and pepper. I light the cigar with my soft flame and taste a medium strong coffee with a little spice and some pepper in the aftertaste. After two puffs the pepper gets strong but there’s also a bit of sweetness.


After a centimeter I taste some milky chocolate with pepper and a little caramel, it’s mild creamy. Slowly but surely the pepper is replaced with some oak and green spices. Every few puffs I taste the chocolate again. Right before the two third mark I taste some nutmeg too. The chili peppers make a comeback too. The oak is still the base flavor and the flavors are all well balanced. After two thirds there is also a little mixed nuts flavor with a tiny bit of salt. There is a strong peppery flavor on my lips for a while. The nutty flavor is hardly noticeable anymore, oak is back as the base. At the end I taste a mild mint flavor in the aftertaste.


The draw is just simply great, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is medium plus thick and with a decent amount. The ask is salt and pepper colored, it’s quite firm too. The burn is straight, no touch ups. This cigar is medium full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, they are available in the Netherlands now and once I’m out I’ll get some more.

Score: 93

93

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Categories: 93, Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigarguideblog Top 25 cigars of 2017

On January first of 2017 I switched from the rating system I had been using for 10 years to a 100 point scoring system for three main reasons:

– I could compare scores for myself
– The companies I reviewed cigars from could use the scores to promote their cigars, and that would make my number of visitors grow too
– I could make a top 25 at the end of the year.

The old system I’d been using for so long came from an old (I think it was Hungarian) website, an online humidor, that is no longer online and now that I’ve been using a 100 point score system for a year I no longer want to go back to my old system. How I come to my 100 point score is explained here (insert link)

The last few years I also updated my blog very irregularly due to my work, as part of the industry and the strict Dutch laws it could be considered advertising and I didn’t want to take any risk, even though my reviews are in English and I reviewed a lot of cigars that I didn’t represented. I just did a few reviews to keep the site alive but since parting ways with my then employer in June of 2016 I did a weekly review until the end of the year. To make a new start on the blog I decided to change a few things, like the set up of the review to make it a bit more personal, the 100 point score and a review every Wednesday and Sunday. As a lancero lover I also decided to write a lancero review every 15th of the month, even if the 15th wasn’t a Wednesday or Sunday and to top it off I also wrote a few special reviews on special dates or a series of reviews.

Out of the 156 cigars I reviewed, here’s my top 25 cigars of 2017:

1) Jas Sum Kral Kralot Pre-release Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 95
2) Balmoral Anejo XO FT127 Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 95
3) Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 95
4) Warped Little Havana Toro (USA) with a score of 95
5) Undercrown Manifesto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
6) Oliva Masterblend 1 Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
6) Don Fernando Corona (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
8) Kilo Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
9) Oliva Masterblend 2 Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
10) Cornelius & Anthony Cornelius Toro (USA) with a score of 94
11) Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak A (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
11) Mi Querida Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
11) My Father 911 Commemorate Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) La Sagrada Familia Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) Ilja VIII A by My Father (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
14) 601 La Bomba Napalm (Nicaragua) with a score of 94
17) Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Robusto (Honduras) with a score of 93
17) Joya Red Half Corona (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
19) Tatuaje RC233 Figurado (USA) with a score of 93
20) Plasencia Alma Fuerte Figurado (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
21) Oliva Classic Natural Churchill (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
22) RomaCraft Wunderlust Robusto (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
23) Viking Viking Robusto (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
23) Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
25) Jas Sum Kral CRNA NOK Toro (Nicaragua) with a score of 93
25) Puros de Hostos Commendador Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93
25) Long Live the King my style is jalapeño Lancero (Dominican Republic) with a score of 93

Now you might think “hey, that’s 27 cigars” and you’re right but the Jas Sum Kral CRNA Nok, the Puros de Hostos Commendador and the Long Live the King scored exactly the same rating on my 1000 point system so they share the 25th spot, just like the Oliva Masterblend 1 and the Don Fernando share the 6th spot, the Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak, Mi Querida and the My Father 911 commemorate cigar share spot 11, La Sagrada Familia, Ilja VIII and 601 share spot 14, Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua and Joya Red share spot 17 and both Viking cigars share the 23rd spot brotherly. Maybe for the next year I need to come up with a divider, if you have suggestions, please let me know.

The breakdown

So I scored 156 cigars in 2017 and the average score is 88,6 so 89 but to end up in the top 25 you had to score at least 92,8 and the average of the top 25 is 93.7

Now looking at the countries, Nicaragua rules the top 27 with 19 entries, the Dominican Republic scores 5, then a surprising number three with 2 entries from the USA and 1 Honduran cigar. That means no Cuban, Costa Rican, Panamanian, Mexican, Peruvian and Dutch cigars made the cut.

Cigars smoked: 156
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 89

Now broken down per country:
Flag USA
America:
Cigars smoked: 5
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 89

 

flag costa rica
Costa Rica:
Cigars smoked: 3
Highest score: 91
Lowest score: 90
Average score: 90

flag cuba
Cuba:
Cigars smoked: 12
Highest score: 92
Lowest score: 84
Average score: 88

flag dominican
Dominican Republic:
Cigars smoked: 38
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 72
Average score: 82

 

Flag honduras
Honduras:
Cigars smoked: 15
Highest score: 93
Lowest score: 79
Average score: 90

 

Flag Mexico
Mexico:
Cigars smoked: 7
Highest score: 86
Lowest score: 73
Average score: 90

 

flag nicaragua
Nicaragua:
Cigars smoked: 73
Highest score: 95
Lowest score: 77
Average score: 91

 

flag netherlands
Netherlands:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 89
Lowest score: 89
Average score: 89

 

flag panama
Panama:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 89
Lowest score: 89
Average score: 89

 

flag peru
Peru:
Cigars smoked: 1
Highest score: 82
Lowest score: 82
Average score: 82

Now what do these numbers say? It is too simple to say that the average per country is which country I like best because I haven’t smoked an equal amount of cigars per country. But it is safe to say that my preferences are more met by Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars then by any other country.

If you look at the average scores between the Dominican Republic and Cuba you might say I prefer Cuba over the Dominican but I reviewed a lot of Dominican budget cigars and only premium cigars from Cuba so if I cut those budget cigars out, the average of the Dominican Republic shoots back to 90, all those budget cigars definitely effected the average for the Dominican Republic.

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kilo Toro

Yes I know, almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed this cigar too, so lets call this a redux. I wanted to review this cigar with my 100 point scoring system before they were all gone so this was my last chance. Here’s the story, years ago I met Barry Stein when he worked for Miami Cigar & Co when I went to visit Nestor Miranda and Jason Wood at the office and we stayed in touch, actually, everytime I went to Miami Barry and I made time to smoke a stick or two so when I saw him post on Facebook that he was brining back his brand that he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co I asked for more information.


All Barry said that the cigar was being made in Esteli, a town I would visit soon after the conversation and after a little push Barry told me who made the cigars but I had to promise not to tell before he publicly announced it. It was Noel Rojas, back in his old factory Aromas de Jalapa, nowadays Noel works from Tabacalera NOA and Barry was kind enough to get me Noel’s contact information. This all led to the introduction of the Rojas, Sabor de Esteli and Guayacan brands in The Netherlands 18 months later but that’s a side step. I visited Noel at the factory and he gave me a bundle of the Kilo Toro and Barry asked me for pictures because he had not seen the complete cigars with the rings.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the blend as I simply don’t know, but I can tell you all about the looks. The cigar looks cool, the wrapper is has a deep dark brown color with a light oily shine and no noticeable veins, the construction feels great and you can see Noel’s Cuban heritage with the triple cap. The cigar ring is one of the best i’ve seen, high glossy paper, pitch black with a thick golden outline that really pops, white chemistry drawings and KILO in golden letters. On the back you will find the United Cigars logo, think Route 66 with 3 white stars in blue and the classic American red & white stripes. The aroma is great, deep and it reminds me of the rolling tobacco my father used to smoke when I was a kid and before his health made him stop. There is absolutely no acidic aroma at all, no ammonia, nothing.


I decided to punch the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a little raisin with a little spice and honey. I lit the cigar with a soft flame as usual. I taste coffee with some leather and jalapeño pepper. On my lips I taste a very mild honey. After a few puffs I taste pepper, a mixture of spices and some honey with a leathery aftertaste. After a centimeter I taste some cedar too.

After a third I taste some pepper, some cedar, some honey and a little cocoa. Halfway the cigar gets a little bitter on the tip of my tongue and I taste some spices, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and also a little citrus. The flavors are quite dry, I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The cigar also gets a little peppery again. Near the end I also taste some freshness and the pepper is gone. There is also a mild nutty flavor


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is too, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is firm, dense and light colored. The burn is a bit crooked though but not too bad, so I don’t need to correct. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 50 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible as Barry has sold the rights to the name and the cigar has been discontinued.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Kilo Toro

 

Mid April I saw a Facebook post by my friend Barry Stein, announcing the return of Kilo. Knowing Barry for a few years and with an upcoming trip to Nicaragua two weeks later I decided to shoot Barry a message and ask him who’s making the cigars. All Barry would tell me they were made in Esteli, but when I told him I would be there soon he made me swear secrecy and told me Noel Rojas from Guayacan cigars was making them. I shot Noel an email and we made an appointment in Esteli.


Noel showed me his factory and gave me a pack of 10 Kilo Toros, funny detail, I saw the cigars with bands even before Barry did. Noel is a great host, with a nice factory, good cigars and some innovative ideas. I need to try more of his cigars.

Now the cigar, the dark wrapper feels silky and has a few thin veins, the band is simple but stylish and due to the gold it will pop in the humidor. The cigar has a pretty strong hay aroma. The predraw is flawless with hints of raisin and white pepper. I can’t feel any construction errors.


First flavor I get is a strong taste of toasted coffee beans with soon herbs too. After a centimeter I taste oak with the said herbal flavors. After an inch I mainly taste woody flavors. After a third the cigar gets a bit dry, so I have to take a few sips of my rum & coke.


The flavor doesn’t change much, except the herbs make place for a mild toasty taste and pepper. Halfway I get some spices too.  After that the flavor doesn’t change much, but who cares? I like what I taste. The spices like nutmeg and cinnamon slowly get a bit stronger. At the end the woody flavors are the strongest.


The smoke is white and pretty thick. The draw is flawless. The ash is white and but not so firm, so it breaks quickly. The burn is pretty straight. The color of the ash keeps surprising me, it might be the whitest ash I’ve ever seen. The cigar is full flavored but medium in strength. It took me one hour and 40 pleasant minutes.

Would I buy this again? Yes, and i would love to try other vitolas too. And it makes me curious about other cigars from Noel’s factory.

Appearance: 8
Construction: 9
Draw: 9
Burn: 8
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part:8

Categories: Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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