Posts Tagged With: Big Smoke

Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art Robusto

When the Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill was picked as #1 cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado I was surprised. Not that it was a bad cigar, but I never would have imagined it as a winner, it’s good but not that good. But then again, I disagree with reviews and top 25 lists more often than not, it’s all about personal preferences I guess, and I know that people disagree with my list too.


Last month George Sosa handed me a few new Prensado cigars, the Lost Art, in a robusto shape and the first one I lit I loved, I liked it so much better than the regular prensado so I kept one for a review too. And here it is.


The box pressed cigar is made in Honduras, at Raices Cubanas, where the majority of Alec Bradley cigars are made. The cigar has a Honduran corojo wrapper and binder plus filler from both Honduras and Nicaragua. The ring is the same as the Prensado ring, with the red AB logo in the middle, several colored rings around it in a Indian color scheme but with an add ring saying Lost Art.  The coffee brown wrapper has some veins and the head got a few wrinkles because of box pressing the cigar. The aroma is medium strong and it’s clearly a tobacco and barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar with a double guillotine cutter. The cold draw is perfect, i taste raw tobacco with a little spice on my lips. After lighting with my trusted soft flame I taste a strong and spicy coffee with a soft cedar undertone. After a centimeter I taste a nice cedar with herbs and spices. The aftertaste has a hint of chocolate but very subtle. The whole cigar is subtle with a spicy and peppery layer over the subtle wood and toast flavors. The background flavors are a very delicate mix of flavors, subtle enough to taste but hard to identify since they are balanced and complex.


The draw is perfect, the smoke is thick, white and voluminous. The ash is light gray with dark smears. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, I love this cigar.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , ,

Davidoff 702 Series 2000

At the Dutch Big Smoke, which took place in the weekend of 16 & 17 september in Amsterdam & Almere, Davidoff introduced their 702 series to the Dutch audience. Now I was involved with the first 5 Big Smokes before the Dutch FDA shot us down, and my former Big Smoke partner decided for a different set up after a year of absence, a set up that is allowed within the strict Dutch regulations. I wasn’t involved and I didn’t like the set up. I was at one of the participating shops though with Riste from Jas Sum Kral and Juan Martinez (Joya de Nicaragua), Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia), Alex Svensson (Cigars International) and George Sosa (Alec Bradley) were there too.


Anyhow, on the second day of the event the Davidoff rep walked in, I have known him for years, and I jokingly say “hey, you didn’t bring me the new cigar?”. He reached into his pocket and handed me the Davidoff 702 series 2000. The binder and filler are the same as the regular production Davidoff as far as I know but the wrapper is a tobacco created from different Cuban strains and grown in Ecuador and it’s the same as the 2009 limited edition, but now in a regular production setting.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I notice how dark the wrapper is and it’s thick, creating a wrinkle at the foot because of a vein. The ring is Davidoff quality, classic but well printed and the secondary ring uses the same white and gold by being split in a golden top with white letters 2000 and a white bottom with golden letters 702 series. The cigar has the right resistance when I touch it, the shape is pretty, so the rollers did a good job. The aroma is strong and is definitely a stable aroma, hay, manure, urine, straw, live stock. It sounds disgusting but in a cigar its exactly what you expect to smell.


I decapped the cigar with a Xikar guillotine cutter from the Procigar gift box from a few years back. The cold draw is good, quite spicy. The first puff is coffee and a little chocolate. The chocolate disappears immediately and is replaced by a peanut flavor, still with the coffee. After half an inch i mainly taste a salty peanut flavor. Halfway the peanuts turns earthy and peppery. The final third starts salty again.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn needed a touch up twice to correct. The ash is a little frayed yet firm. I would call this cigar medium at most, both in flavor and body. The smoke time is and hour and twenty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not for my palate, technically a very good cigar though.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Cigars Davidoff, Davidoff, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Gran Reserva Robusto

Yesterday I published my review of the 2005 limited edition Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970 Gran Reserva, a name that surfaced again in 2017 as a new release by Joya de Nicaragua, not as a limited edition this time but as a full, three vitola, line with an updated blend and updated artwork. The blend is all Nicaraguan tobacco, all aged for a minimum of five years.


A week before the Intertabac trade show I ran into Juan Martinez at the Cigaragua store in Amsterdam, a shop that sells only Nicaraguan cigars, a concept that in my opinion can grow bigger than the La Casa del Habano franchises and Juan handed me the new Joya Antano 1970 Gran Reserva and a Todos Las Dias by Steve Saka, which is made at the Joya factory too. I will review the Todos Las Dias in a few days.


There is a difference in rings, the new version has a slightly clearer picture but the Antano name is easier to read and the sides of the ring are cleaner, the secondary ring is golden with red and white line and black letters and looks so much better than the old ring. The dark wrapper, with a vein running over the front, feels velvet like to the touch. The cigar is evenly packed and beautifully finished. The cigar has a strong aroma, hay, straw and some smokey barbecue aroma.


I cut the cigar and how else than with my Joya de Nicaragua branded cutter. The cold draw is great, it’s a little peppery. I lit the cigar with a soft flame and taste coffee, pepper and herbs. After a few puffs the flavor changes to an earthy chocolate with some creamy sweetness. After a third I taste a strong pepper bit a vanilla cream background and a minty aftertaste. Halfway it’s pepper, cream and a little earthy flavor, smooth but strong. With little over an inch to go I taste a nice charred wood, with a mellow pepper and the flavors are creamy.


The draw is good and the smoke is plentiful but only medium thick.  The color is grayish. The burn is straight as an arrow. The ash had a yellowish glow but its firm. Even though this is a strong cigar, full bodied and full flavored, it’s balanced so the strength isn’t out of range with the flavor. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a treat, new to the market and I have no doubt it will do great.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

La Sagrada Familia Maduro Robusto

Last year Tom Mulder, a cigar aficionado from The Netherlands, released his first cigar under the name La Sagrada Familia. I have known Tom for quite a few years and had we talked about his ideas years ago, and it was or is nice to see his dream come out. He partnered up with the oldest factory in Nicaragua, Joya de Nicaragua and released a three vitola series in The Netherlands, starting from there and will slowly but surely spread to other countries.


This year Tom will release a second line, the La Sagrada Familia Maduro and just as with the regular La Sagrada Familia there will be a small charity connected to the cigar, part of the proceeds go to projects in Nicaragua under the #bepartofthefamily hashtag. Last year it was a charity for single mothers that made a living by recycling paper, I don’t know what Tom’s next project will be. Anyhow, it’s good to see that some of the proceeds flow back to the people in Nicaragua that need our help most. If any of you out there want to help out in Nicaragua with a donation, please visit the website of my friend Asha who runs a charity in Nicaragua called Atrapa Suenos.


Back to the cigar, I smoked a pre-release but Tom told me the ring will be exactly the same as the ring on his core line, just black and gold, therefore I rate the ring the same as I rated the core line. The wrapper is dark and is leathery, both to the touch and to the eye. the triple cap is perfect but the cigar feels rock hard to the touch. Evenly hard though, so I don’t expect any problems with draw. The aroma is medium strong, earthy and leathery with something of a dark chocolate smell too.


I cut the cigar with my Joya de Nicaragua branded Xikar cutter which seemed appropriate considering the cigar is made there.  The cold draw is good and quite peppery. After lighting the cigar with my classic Ronson varaflame I taste peppery coffee, quite strong. After a few puffs it chances to chocolate with a little pepper though. After an inch the flavor is more toasty with a little cocoa. After a third I still taste some toast but with an earthy flavor and a very little lime. The final third is earthy with pepper. The cigar surely gets spicier, without becoming too spicy. The earthy flavor turns into something I would describe as carrot, that’s what comes closest.


The draw is great and the smoke is thick, full and white. The burn is straight as an arrow. The white ash is dense and firm. The cigar has a nice evolution. I would say this is a medium plus bodied cigar, full flavored. The smoke time is surprisingly long, almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, no doubt.

Score: 92
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your reviewer with Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia)

Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, La Sagrada Familia, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli Robusto

Years ago, while working for my previous employer, we released the Alec Bradley Black Market in The Netherlands and we couldn’t keep up with the demand, it was insane. Of course the demand dropped a little after a few months but it was still a good selling cigar, nice priced and it scored a 90 when I reviewed it earlier this year. Now there is a new Black Market, the Black Market Esteli.


I got this cigar from George Sosa, VP of Sales for Alec Bradley during the Big Smoke Amsterdam weekend, George and I have worked well together and he always hooks me up with plenty of cigars. He gave me this Nicaraguan cigar with a Nicaraguan wrapper, a double binder, one from Nicaragua and one from Honduras and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar is made at the Plasencia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.


The packaging is similar to the regular Black Market, so with a three quarters long paper wrapping on the cigar. That was designed because Alan Rubin, the owner of the brand, didn’t want the cigars in cellophane yet still wanted to protect them from  damaging, hence the huge ring. Eventually the cigars were packed in cellophane too, but the big paper rings remained. The wrapper is smooth, oily, quite dark and pretty. The construction feels good, nice triple cap, evenly filled. The aroma is quite strong and smells like a sheep farm, but not in a filthy disgusting farm, a clean farm with healthy clean animals.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw is perfect with a mild minty and raisin flavor. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a sweet coffee and toast. The sweetness stands out, with an earthy undertone. After an inch I taste that earthy flavor with still a sweetness, a cake like sweetness but also a little black pepper in the aftertaste. Halfway I taste some milk chocolate too. Soon after I taste pepper with the earthy flavor and a little bit of a metallic taste. All of a sudden the cigar changed to earthy toast with some pepper.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is white and layered. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium plus thick. I would say this cigar is medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Much to my surprise, considering my love for Nicaraguan cigars, I prefer the Honduran Black Market.

Score:  90
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your reviewer with George Sosa and Bradley Rubin (Alec Bradley Cigars)

Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral in The Netherlands

Last weekend Riste Riatevski, owner from the Jas Sum Kral brand was in The Netherlands for the Dutch Big Smoke, other guests were Alex Svensson (Cigar.com), George Sosa (Alec Bradley), Abe Flores (PDR), Juan Martinez (Joya de Nicaragua) and Tom Mulder (La Sagrada Familia).

Because of my friendship with Riste we hung out and I acted as his host and driving during the few days he spend here. We made a short movie about the JSK trip.

 

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , ,

Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero

From 2010 till 2015, when the Dutch FDA closed us down, I was one of the people behind the Dutch Big Smoke. One day, in the early summer of 2012, I went to the zoo with my nephew and my phone rings, unknown number, I pick up and it was the marketing manager of Royal Agio telling me that they wanted to introduce a new Balmoral cigar, the Balmoral Anejo 18, and asked me of we could fit them in at the Big Smoke mid september. Now Balmoral is mainly known for their shortfillers that, in The Netherlands, are sold in convenience stores, gas stations etc and their line of longfillers are dated and way under the radar of the cigar geeks like me, the only Balmoral I liked at the moment was the Balmoral Dominican Selection, a short filler dry cigar with Dominican tobacco and its a very good cigar for a short filler. So my response was blunt “why do you think we want a gas station cigar on the Big Smoke?”. Boy, was I wrong there!


A few weeks later Jaco de Kramer, who now owns Jacks’ Cigar bar in Rotterdam, tells me that he was at a barbecue and one of the Wintermans (owners of Agio) was there and he smoked that unreleased cigar, according to him it was great. I decided to call the Agio Marketing manager and told him to meet me, my employer, my Big Smoke co-organizer and Ed van Dalen, a well known cigar retailer, in the Van Dalen Lounge in Rotterdam the next Friday with some samples so we could try them and make up our minds. So that Friday he showed up, we all cut the cigar, lit it and after 3 puffs I look at the Agio guy and go “ok, how do you want to proceed from here?”, that cigar was great, and like I was so wrong to shut him down on that first phone call. Now the Anejo 18 had an 18 year old wrapper, so after 2 years of production they ran out of it and the follow up was the Balmoral Anejo XO, which came pretty close to the Anejo 18. I jumped for joy when I heard Agio would do a limited run of my favorite vitola, a 7×40 lancero. First they were released in the States but then 750 cigars (75 boxes of 10) came to The Netherlands. I managed to buy two at Primera Lelycentre, the shop of Ronald Riecker, a very passionated tobacco retailer in Lelystad.


I just love the size, not just because a Lancero has a beautiful wrapper to filler ratio, the wrapper gives most of the flavor, because of the low amount of filler the cigar gets more dynamic, its also an elegant cigar due to the length and the slenderness of the ring gauge. For the blend Agio used Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Dominican Olor binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and as expected from Brazilian wrappers it is a bit rustic yet it also has a mild oily shine. A nice detail is the small pig tail. The construction feels good. The cigar has a deep, dark and relatively strong barnyard aroma, like walking into a stable with some cows but before they pissed all over the floor. The cigar has a double ring, a gray foot band with a white and gold line at the bottom and golden letters saying Anejo XO and in smaller letters Lancero FT. The normal band is white and gray with gray and golden letters. It says Balmoral on top in white and the B logo in gold, near the bottom it says Lancero FT in gray and underneath edicion 2016 limitada in white and god. The band is simple but tasteful, no coloring, its very clear what it is and I like it.


Because of the ring gauge and the pig tail I cut the cigar and this time I used a cutter from the Spanish company HF Barcelona. The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is mild spicy. After I lit the cigar with my Ronson lighter I taste a very pleasant full coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste some dark chocolate. Soon after I also taste pepper, it’s all balanced.

After in inch the coffee is gone and I taste spices, chocolate and some herbs. A third in I taste herbs, cedar and some nuts with a peppery aftertaste. Every few puffs I taste a faint chocolate too. Halfway there is a little citrus flavor too. When I review I don’t eat anything and I only drink water but I think this cigar would be spectacular with some dark chocolate. Slowly but surely the cigar gains strength and becomes more peppery. After two thirds pepper is the main flavor but every now and then I still taste the chocolates.


The draw is perfect, 100 out of 100 points. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is frayed, light gray with dark spots but it is firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is full bodied and full of strong full flavors yet well balanced and full of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m afraid they are all sold out, I would by a box or two, or three, or four, or five if possible.

Score: 95

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Categories: 95, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Balmoral Anejo 18

During the organization of the Dutch Big smoke somebody suggested that we should take a look at the Balmoral Anejo as one of the 10 cigars that came with the ticket. Now my first reaction was ‘no way, there is no place for a gas station cigar on my watch’ but after reading a review and talking to a friend who had smoked a pre-release cigar I changed my mind and me & the other people behind the Dutch Big Smoke decided to try one and we were sold. The Balmoral Anejo 18 was a ‘must have’ for the 2012 Big Smoke.
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The Balmoral Anejo 18 Rothschild is a longfiller with some 18 year old tobacco, a dark and veiny wrapper, beautiful bands, a firm construction and a strong barnyard smell. The predraw is great and I taste pepper and some earthy flavor.
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The flavors are sharp without becoming harsh, I taste pepper and coffee. The red pepper I can feel all the way down my throat. After half an inch I taste some toast with pepper and a little bit of chocolate. The toasted flavors are getting stronger. After a third I taste toast with nuts and pepper. The cigar is full flavored with some chocolate on the background.
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Halfway I still taste the toast with some spices and pepper, although the pepper has lost some of its strength. After two thirds the pepper gains some strength again on a bed of toast and a hint of chocolate. The pepper really pops at the end, it makes my lips tingle
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This cigar lasted me for an hour and twenty minutes. The pepper and salt colored ash is firm. The smoke is white and reasonably thick. The burn is beautiful. The cigar is full flavored and medium to full bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I already did

Appearance: 7 / 10
Construction: 8 / 10
Draw: 8 / 10
Burn: 8 / 10
Smoke & ash: 7 / 10
Aroma first part: 8 / 10
Aroma second part: 8 / 10
Aroma third part: 8 / 10

Categories: Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , ,

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