Posts Tagged With: budget

Mustique Blue Robusto

Mustique Blue Robusto. Earlier we did a review on the Mustique Red Robusto. A value cigar from the Dominican Republic. And guess what, we did not care much for it. And that’s an understatement. If every cigar was like the Mustique Red, we would quit smoking cigars today. But fortunately, there are many good cigars out there as well. Today it is time to try the brother of the Red, the Blue.

Just as the red version, this cigar comes from Tabacalera de Garcia. The largest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic, and possibly even the world. It has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over Dominican filler and binder. It measures 5×50.

The Colorado-colored wrapper has a nice shine to it. It looks a bit leathery, especially at the foot. The appearance is much better than the red version. The cigar feels a lot better as well, not as spongy. But the aroma is not as good. It smells a bit like lovage after someone emptied his bladder on the plant.

The cold draw is good. There is a little spice in the flavor, with green herbs. That lovage that’s also in the aroma, fortunately, the pee aroma isn’t in the taste too. Once lit there is leather, wood, herbs, and pepper. The flavors slowly change to cedar with a mild walnut flavor and black pepper in the background. Not unpleasant. Halfway the cigar gives cedar, soil, leather, and hay. With some black pepper in the background. For the price, this isn’t a bad cigar. It is so much better than the red version. The nuttiness picks up, hazelnuts with pepper. The flavor intensifies with more wood and black pepper. But there is earthiness and leather too.

The draw is a bit tight. The burn is straight. Due to the tight draw, the smoke isn’t big either. The ash is light gray and quite strong. The construction of the cigar is decent. The body of this cigar is medium-full with medium flavor. The smoke time is two hours and five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this is a decent budget cigar.

Categories: 89, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, Mustique | Tags: , , , ,

Mustique Red Robusto

Mustique Red Robusto. This is one of the many bundle brands available that never caught the attention of us at the Ministry of Cigars office until about a year ago. A friend gave us a handful of Mustique cigars, both the red label and the blue label. There is not a lot of information online about these cigars, just that Lubinksi is distributing them in Italy. And Kohlhase & Kopp distributes them in Germany.

Apparently, these cigars are 100% long-fillers, but for the price, we truly wonder. Maybe we should cut one open to see. The cigars feature an Ecuadorian wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder. The majority of the filler is Dominican with some Brazilian. What is known is that the cigar hails from the rolling tables of Tabacalera de Garcia. That factory is part of Altadis and it is the largest premium cigar factory on the island. The cigar measures 5×50 but come in several more sizes.

The Colorado-colored wrapper is a bit rough and the triple cap isn’t smooth-looking either. The bright red ring with the white letters is simple, which fits the bundle look of the cigar. The cigar feels a little spongy, slightly under-packed. But evenly spongy, there aren’t any soft or hard spots. The aroma is quite strong and pleasant. It is a barnyard aroma but it has some depth to it.

The cold draw is easy. The flavor from the cold draw is spicy and even a little harsh. Sour milk. Not as horrible as it sounds, but the first puffs have a slightly sour milk taste to them. To offset that flavor, there is pleasant cinnamon. And that makes this cigar Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The mouthfeel is dry and sticky. The flavors slowly evolve to cedar, with pepper and sweetness. And the flavor profile confirms our suspicion that the wrapper is Ecuadorian Connecticut. That classic old book, old library musty and dusty flavor is unmistakably there. The sour milk flavor never goes away. It is lingering in the back and pops up every once in a while. The nice mix of dark spices and pepper counter the flavor, but still, it does not make smoking this cigar a fantastic experience. Then all of a sudden a very dry, old leather flavor shows up. It then turns to hay, grass, with some pepper. There is a little rough edge, but not enough to call the cigar harsh. The sour milk is gone though, and that’s a good thing. The remainder of the cigar gives cedar, spice, pepper, and that Connecticut Shade signature mustiness.

The draw is decent, it could have a little more air resistance. There is enough smoke coming from this cigar. The smoke is gray, not white or blueish as we like it. The ash is silver-gray and reasonably firm. The burn is good. The cigar is medium, both in the body as in flavor. This is a typical “you get what you pay” for cigar. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Quality over quantity. I rather pay three times the amount and smoke something I enjoy, than pay €2.70 for 3 of these so I could smoke more often.

Categories: 79, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, Mustique | Tags: , , ,

Buffalo Ten Maduro Toro

Buffalo Ten Maduro Toro. When the first rumors about this release surfaced, the name was a mystery. At first, the suggestion was made that it is a cigar for the Buffalo Cigar Festival. But in a conversation with Ram Rodriguez from Tabacalera El Artista, the truth was revealed. The name is chosen because it’s a cool sounding name. Of course, the people behind Buffalo Cigar Festival love the name, but they are not the inspiration. Rodriguez wanted to make a value cigar, one size, simple packaging, and simple artwork. The 10 in the name comes from the first proposed packaging. Bundles of 10 cigars. But eventually, the cigars were released in bundles of five cigars.

The cigar measures 6×52 and is box-pressed. Almost rectangle, much like the Factory Press from La Flor Dominicana. Very sharp edges. This is a five-country cigar blend, with a Mexican wrapper. A Maduro from San Andres. The filler comes from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the USA. The Colombian tobacco is used for the slightly acidic flavor, that helps to bind all flavors together. But the tobacco that is most rare is the binder. It’s a Dominican Negrito. Very dark tobacco that was popular 50 to 60 years ago. But it disappeared. Tabacalera El Artista and the Dominican Agricultural Society brought it back to life. It’s hard tobacco to grow, with relatively low yields. So it’s not used often.

The cigar looks amazing. Not just to smoke, but also to eat. The sharp box-pressed shape and the dark chocolate color make this cigar look like a candy bar. Add a simple, clean, and slick white ring and you have an amazing looking cigar. The wrapper is Colorado Maduro colored, with one flattened vein. It’s toothy and feels like fine sandpaper. The ring is white, simple, clean with print in the same color as the wrapper. The two components on itself look fine, yet the combination is extremely pleasing on the eyes. The box press is so sharp, it is almost as sharp as the La Flor Dominicana Factory Press cigars. The construction feels good. The aroma is earth and leather.

The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is earthy. Once lit, the cigar has coffee, soil, sweetness, and herbal spices. The flavors then change to soil, leather, chocolate, pepper, and spice. Leather gets stronger with cedar and pepper. The mouthfeel is dry. The second third starts with cocoa powder. Dry. Add some leather and a hint of acidity to bind everything together. The flavors slowly change to more leather, spices, soil, and wood. With still a hint of chocolate, pepper, and acidity. The final third starts with that dry chocolate or cocoa flavor again. Pepper, leather, and wood are there too. With a hint of sweetness. The mouthfeel is still dry now, but also sticky. There is a spice flavor that is hard to describe, with wood, pepper, and chocolate.

The draw is fantastic, the right amount of airflow and resistance. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar produces plenty of thick white smoke. The ash is almost white as well. Firm also. The cigar doesn’t have a lot of evolution. But it is balanced and flavorful. The Buffalo Ten Maduro Toro is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is three hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? A 92 rated cigar for a value price? Damn right!

Categories: 92, Buffalo Ten, Dominican cigars, Tabacalera El Artista | Tags: , , , , ,

Umnum Honduras Robusto

Umnum Honduras Robusto. A strange name for a cigar that’s gaining traction in Europe. Handmade cigars, from Nicaragua or Honduras depending on the blend. And dirt cheap. This robusto has a price tag of €2,30 in Germany, making it one of the cheapest handmade cigars on the market. Where the name Umnum comes from, we have no idea. Google didn’t tell us anything. The only umnum we found is a tiny village in the West Papua province of Indonesia. But that region is too cold to grow tobacco, and only the Nicaragua blend uses some Indonesian tobacco.

There are two blends. The first one is a Nicaraguan puro. I reviewed the Umnum Nicaragua Bond some time ago. The second blend is the Umnum Honduras. It’s made at an undisclosed factory in Honduras. The wrapper is Honduran with a Mexican binder. The filler tobaccos are from Nicaragua and Honduras. The robusto measures 5×50 but there are several other sizes available. From a Petit Corona called Bond to a 4¾x60 Jumbo and a few more in between.

The cigar doesn’t look like a cheap cigar. The ring is beautiful. Matte Black with a shiny copper-colored logo of a traditional image, probably Mayan. The wrapper itself is Colorado colored and has the looks of Corojo. Dryish, with the feel of fine sandpaper. The veins are thin. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is medium strong. It has forests smell with a hint of something like old urine. It’s not the most pleasant aroma we ever experienced, but also not the worst.

The cold draw is fine but has that dried dusty flavor of Connecticut Shade. Once lit there is a strong coffee flavor, slightly acidic. The flavor is a little rough around the edges. The coffee and acidity remain, but now with some sweetness, dried leaves, and musty wood. At the end of the first third, the cigar has a very unpleasant flavor. The sour flavor is ruining everything else. The second third is musty, dried leaves, and a little harsh. The acidity is still there but at a tolerable level. There is a bit of a burned wood and nuts flavor as well. The final third starts with peanuts. The acidity is completely gone. There is a bit more sweetness. The cigar completely changes from bad to great. A nice, balanced combination of black pepper, sweetness, leather, wood, coffee, and nuts. 

The construction is great. The draw, the burn, and the smoke are of high quality. Straight burn, although we had to correct it once, halfway. Thick, white smoke. Good draw. White ash. The flavors are medium to full. But not well rounded, too acidic. But the last third is a game-changer. It’s day and night. The smoke time is three hours fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Based on the first and second third, no. Based on the final third, yes.

Categories: 89, Honduran cigars, Umnum | Tags: , , , ,

Alfambra G series Robusto

Alfambra G series Robusto. A cigar completely unknown to us. And not just to us, as there is hardly any information to be found on the company online. Nothing more than just the blend, the name of the factory and the sizes they produce. But the brand is available in several European markets, so Ministry of Cigars took the time to smoke the Alfambra G Series Robusto for a review.


From the little information that we found online, we learned that this is a Nicaraguan cigar. Now we figured that out before, as they have a second line called El Brujito. And that’s a shaman from old cave paintings found in Esteli. Drew Estate uses that same painting and name for its Nica Rustica line. This Alfambra G Series doesn’t use the El Brujito though. The cigar is made from Nicaraguan fillers and a Nicaraguan binder. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano.

 

The first impression isn’t that good. The cellophane itself feels like cheap, low quality plastic instead of proper cellophane. The wrapper itself has a nice Colorado to Colorado Maduro color. It’s a bit rough and there is even a small hole in the wrapper at the back, exposing the binder. Now, this is a budget bundle cigar, so they get away with it. But for a premium cigar, this would be a big no. The dark green and gold ring is fine. But it won’t stand out in a humidor. The cigar itself feels well constructed. The aroma is strong and smells like hay.

The cold draw is a bit tight. It leaves flavors of spices, raisins, and tobacco on the lips. After lighting, the cigar is pleasantly sweet with a white pepper aftertaste. The tobacco tastes a little rough though. Unfortunately, there’s also a little sourness, as in milk gone bad that does not please the palate. The sweetness is strong enough to overpower that, making the cigar still tolerable. Slowly some smooth soil and leather join the sourness and sweetness. The sourness is dragging this cigar down. After a third, the sourness fades away but now the cigar turns musty and dry. Sweet, with pepper, leather, wood but dry. Slowly some toast shows up too, while the sweetness loses its strength. And there is a mushroom flavor. Chewy, like portobello. At the end of the second third, the cigar tastes like pepper, spices, soil, wood, and leather. No character, a little harsh but at least the sourness and the mustiness are gone. The final third packs more strength, more pepper, more leather but with some vanilla and floral notes. More spices show up too, nutmeg, cinnamon, those kinds of spices. All dressed in a strong pepper flavor.


The construction is flawless. Beautiful burn, great draw. The light gray ash is a bit flaky and not too firm. This is a medium-bodied, medium flavored cigar. Unrefined, unbalanced. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

number85

Categories: 85, Alfambra, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

La Estrella Polar Robusto

La Estrella Polar Robusto. In may, Scandinavian Tobacco Group announced that they would start distributing a new brand in Europe. La Estrella Polar, the polar star. And two weeks later, during the TFWA Asia Pacific Trade Show, Ministry of Cigars sat down with Stephan Brichau. Brichau is the international sales and marketing manager premium cigars for the Danish tobacco giant. He sponsored some cigars, but said: “this is a cigar aimed for the budget smoker, it’s between the 3 and 3.50 Euro, keep that in mind while smoking”.

The cigar is available in this 5×50 Robusto or a 6×60 Gordo. The wrapper comes from Ecuador. The binder is from Indonesia. It is from the 2013 harvest. The fillers come from Nicaragua and Colombia. The cigars are made by General Cigars. General Cigars is part of the STG group. But since General Cigars has factories in Honduras, Nicaragua and on the Dominican Republic, it’s unclear where the La Estrella Polar is being produced.

The cigar has a nice, sun grown, wrapper. Quite dark although not Maduro or Oscuro dark. It ranks in the Colorado Maduro class. It’s quite oily, with just one thicker vein. The ring is a bit simple and screams ‘BUDGET CIGAR’. Big, white with mustard colored outlines, blue letters, and a red flag. The wrapper is too pretty for a simple ring like this. The construction feels good. The aroma is medium strong. Wet straw, a little ammonia and green herbs is what comes to mind.

The cold draw is great. The flavors are raw tobacco with spices on the tip of the tongue. And a mild gingerbread in the aftertaste. At first, there’s a slightly bitter, unrefined coffee with pepper. Quickly a powdered sugar flavor joins the coffee. The cigar is still unrefined, slightly harsh. There’s also some sourness. The sourness disappears quickly but is replaced by chocolate milk of a very low grade. Slowly some soil flavor shows up too, still with coffee as the base. The mouthfeel is slightly buttery. The sweet chocolate milk is getting stronger after a third. Halfway the flavors change to musty wood with pepper and leather. In the final third, the cigar starts to get more refined. The sweetness is strong with a leafy flavor and pepper. There’s even a little leather flavor at the end of the cigar, right before the pepper gains serious strength.

The draw is great. The ash is like a stash of dimes, but a short stack as it breaks off quickly. The smoke is nice and thick. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I’m too spoiled to smoke budget cigars. But for a budget cigar, this isn’t too bad.

number89

Categories: 89, La Estrella Polar, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

El Piño Blanco Maduro Robusto

This cigar is only available in The Netherlands, and as far as I know, only in one shop: Tabakado in the city of Eindhoven. And that’s because the cigar is blended by the owner of the shop, Mariska Kelch. I have known Mariska for years, when I started visiting the shop as a sales rep, her father was in charge but he was grooming Mariska to be the chief of the shop and she’s doing great. I saw her progress from just a daughter and employee to a shot caller and I am amazed by her progress.

When the duo met David Blanco, they started talking about creating their own cigar. That resulted in the El Piño Blanco line. Unfortunately, Johan Kelch was not around to see the final product as he suddenly and tragically passed away three years ago, but I know he would be very pleased and very proud of Mariska’s achievements. And while smoking this cigar, I had to think of Johan a lot. He was one of my best accounts, one with a manual though and our conversations always had the same pattern, first Johan would complain about something, then we would have a hard but fair argument before we would do business. Good business, and even though the discussions were hard and heated, we had the utmost respect for each other and liked each other a lot. Johan was also the first retailer to call me and wish me luck on my future path after me and my employer parted ways. I hate that I will never get another chance to smoke a cigar with him.

The cigar looks very nice, the shape is perfect with a well-rounded head, triple cap. I have a feeling that the wrapper is cooked through, in a slurry of tobacco, to make it look darker. When I wet my finger and rub the cigar, my fingers will taint and you can see a lighter shade under dark spots. Now that doesn’t have to mean anything and could be just for aesthetic reasons. And honestly, the cigar looks great. The simple black, green and white ring is clean, the brand name is clear, the tobacco leaf on the ring looks nice. The cigar has a nice touch, I can’t feel any plugs. The smell is medium strong, sawdust and a little bit of manure are what I smell.

The cold draw tastes like raisin, the draw is good though. Right at the get-go, I taste coffee but also a chewy flavor, like portobello mushroom with some leather. After half a centimeter I still taste the mushroom with the leather and some very mild milk chocolate. After a centimeter, I taste hay, dried grass with a bit of American milk chocolate. After a third, the cigar still has the hay with American milk chocolate flavor, but now with some herbs and pepper. When I say American milk chocolate, think Hersey. That’s different than European milk chocolate, a little more chemical. Halfway the cigar gets woody, cedar, with the chewy flavor again and some pepper. In the final third the flavors aren’t muted anymore. I taste wood, milk chocolate, a mild pepper, some herbal flavor. The pepper is getting stronger, now it’s a full-blown Nicaraguan cigar.

The smoke is thick and white. The draw is great. The white ash is beautiful. I had to relight the cigar once, but the burn is sharp. The cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. This is a nice budget cigar that would is great to have around for the days where you smoke more than one cigar and don’t want to break the bank. This is a medium bodied, medium-full flavored cigar with a strong finish. The smoke time is about two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good budget cigar, always nice to have a bundle in the humidor

number89

Categories: 89, El Piño Blanco, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacos de Oriente Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

Reposado Maduro Salomon

Yesterday, when I reviewed the Reposado 96 Habano Salomon I told you how I got introduced to the cigars and how I was amazed by the price. I remember that back in those days I smoked quite a few of these, I might even have ordered a box for myself or did I do a box split? I can’t remember exactly since it’s been so long ago. Somehow I lost these cigars out of sight. Time to revisit the maduro version as well.


I do not know if the Reposado 96 Salomon is related to the, also cheap, Reposado Estate Blend. Well, related it is, but what I ment to say, I don’t know if the blend is the same. The relationship is clear, both brands owned by Meier & Dutch, both brands made at A.J. Fernandez his operations in Esteli, both dirt cheap but the Estate Blend comes in bundles of 10 and have rings while the salomon, that got released years before the estate blend, comes in boxes of 30 and without ring. If anybody knows the answer, please contact me.


Just like the Habano this cigar comes protected in cellophane. The wrapper is dark and toothy, it feels a bit like fine sanding paper. The construction is awesome, the shape, the size, the color, this cigar looks apetizing and feels well made. Again, no ring so no score for that. The cigar has a medium, dry woody and slightly floral aroma.


The shape of the cigar asks for a cut, the cold draw is good, mild spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste coffee, clean yet smooth. After an inch I taste the coffee yet with sweetness and pepper. I also taste some licorice and chocolate. After a third I notice that the flavors are a bit muted. Halfway I taste some vanilla and cream with a good dose of pepper. The creaminess disappears while the pepper grows.


The draw is perfect. The ash is quite dark. The cigar had a nice evolution. The white smoke is medium thick and full. This cigar is medium to full bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I will

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Reposado, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , ,

La Rica Churchill

I remember smoking this cigar early in my cigar life and liking it, then I remember smoking it years later and not liking it anymore. Let’s see if this tubed Churchill makes the first category or the latter one. I tried to find some information online and only saw the cigar mentioned on Belgian and U.K. based websites, nowhere else, so I’m guessing these cigars aren’t available in the USA.


The cigars are made in Nicaragua, that I know, because it says so on the tube, Hecho a mano Nicaragua natural. And the tax ring around the cigar tells me I bought this in Belgium, most likely at Huis Verloo in Antwerp for the price of € 7,50.


The milk chocolate colored wrapper isn’t the best looking wrapper I have ever seen, to put it mildly. It has a few medium thick, unflattened veins and a color that looks just a bit off. The ring is simple, yellow and black with a abstract sun and black letters La Rica.  The construction has an even feel but the cap could look better. The aroma is quite pungent, acidic with some milk chocolate.


After cutting the cigar I taste a little sweetness and pepper with a great draw. After lighting I taste coffee, but a bit harsh. The cigar doesn’t improve, no the contrary, the cigar gets meaner. After a third I taste a harsh, mean wood with vinegar. The vinegar fades away. I still taste a mean woody flavor, but bid with some straw and a mild pepper. The flavors are getting meaner and more harsh in the last third, yet there is also a bit sweetness.


The draw is fine, the ash is dark though. The ash is medium in volume and thin. The color is gray. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and unfortunately medium flavored. It lasts two horrible hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? If it wasn’t for a review I would not have finished the cigar.

Score: 78
number78

Categories: 78, La Rica, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Jose L Piedra Cazadores

This brand is considered one of Cuba’s budget brands and it’s one of the major brands in the Habanos portfolio, with a worldwide distribution except for the United States of course. The brand was started in the 1880’s, it was discontinued 100 years later but within a few years it came back to the market. No limited editions of the Jose L Piedra were ever made.


Everything about this brand screams budget, the packaging in cardboard, the rings, simple in color and design without any embossing, this is just a lower end Cuban cigar and I used to smoke them when smoking was still allowed in bars. It’s a waste to smoke good cigars when you’re drinking with buddies, the Jose L Piedra brand was perfect for those moment.


The wrapper looks rough, the color is nice but a lot of veins and some shading. The ring, which is an old ring that was used between 2002 and 2007, is simple, a brown grayish color ring with white logo and lettering. The construction feels reasonable and the cigar has a below average finish. The aroma is mild, a little bit of a barnyard smell.


The cold draw after cutting the cigars is good, mildly sweet and a little sharp. After lighting I taste a sweet leather flavor. I also taste nutmeg. The flavors are mild. After a third I taste a mild salty peanut flavor with herbs. The flavors slowly change to a salty licorice flavor.


The draw is good. The smoke is thin and low in volume. The light gray ash looks nice and is firm. The burn is decent. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 83
number83

Categories: 83, Cuban cigars, José L Piedra (Habanos) | Tags: , , , ,

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