Posts Tagged With: budget

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

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

Chincalero Fuerte Picadillos

Well, I don’t know where I got this cigar and there is not a lot of information online. And all the information I find is on mainly English websites. I do know it’s for sale in The Netherlands and that it’s a budget cigar with a price tag of 4 euro. I may have gotten it from a customer to try it and give my opinion.


The cigar is made in Nicaragua, but I don’t know by whom. It’s a 4×50 cigar with filler from Panama and Nicaragua, a binder from Nicaragua and a Brazilian wrapper. They come in 24 count boxes.


The wrapper is dark, or is it more of a two tone? Theres a clear difference in the color, it goes from dark to a little lesser dark. The ring is pretty nice, think, black and red, well printed with a simple modern design. The construction is good, the cap is nice, the cigar feels evenly packed. The medium strong aroma is classic cigar barnyard with a little bit of charcoal.


After cutting I get a great cold draw, mild spicy dry tobacco is what I taste. After lighting I taste a sharp mix of spices with dirt. After half an inch I taste dirt or soil. The sharpness fades, it’s just a dirt flavor halfway. The flavors don’t change anymore, just grow a little in strength.


The dense ash is bright white. The white smoke is thick and voluminous. The burn needed a few small corrections. The draw is fine. There isn’t much of development in this medium full bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 84
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Categories: 84, Chinchallero, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , ,

Quorum Toro

Years ago, while on the road as a cigar sales rep, I ran into a sales rep from Davidoff. The cigar game in The Netherlands is small, we all know each other and are all friendly to each other so we chatted a bit and then he asked “do you have something to smoke for me, all I have is this Quorum that we just started distributing and I need something good to smoke now”. I gave him one of my samples and he left me a Quorum, that has been aging since. But now, for budget month, I will light it.


The cigar, supposedly the best selling budget cigar in the world, is made in Nicaragua by J.C. Newman, who are known for their Brick House, Diamond Crown and Cuesta Rey. The Quorum is made from Nicaraguan tobaccos and a Sun Grown Ecuadorian wrapper.


The wrapper looks dusty, like a darker kind of wood where dust settled and it has a velvet feel. The construction is a bit shabby, not perfectly round and the foot is more square while the cap is a but crooked. The ring is an almost black kind of purple with golden outlines and a golden logo with a burgundy banner and the name in gold letters. The medium strong aroma is quite earthy.


After cutting the cigar has a slightly tight draw, mildly acidic. After lighting I immediately think ‘why am I doing this to myself?’. A nasty acidic leathery with some low quality chocolate flavor is what I taste. After a third the flavors are still the same, yet a little less disgusting or maybe I’m getting used to the taste. When the final third starts I know it’s not me getting used to the flavor, as it’s disgusting again.


The draw is a tight, I had to use a draw poker to get the draw going. The light gray ash has nice layers. The burn is pretty straight. The smoke is thin, the smoke is a bit blue. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes. 

Would I buy this cigar again? I rather stop smoking.

Score: 73
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Categories: 73, Nicaraguan cigars, PENSA, Quorum | Tags: , , , ,

La Flor de Rosa Churchill

Now when we are talking budget, this cigar falls right into the category. Dirt cheap, mixed filler, unknown in what factory it’s made, all I know it that its a Nicaraguan made cigar with a Sumatra EMS wrapper from Ecuador and a Nicaraguan binder. When I was a sales rep, I did sell these but even I didn’t know which factory produces these budget cigars.


In Europe the cigars are sold as La Flor de Rosa yet in America they are called Rosa Cuba. Why a different name in Europe? Well, the Cuba name is trademarked, just like Habano (that’s why the type of tobacco is called ‘Sun Grown’ in Europe). Trademarks are also the reason why San Cristobal is sold under the name Paradiso and La Aroma de Cuba is La Aroma del Caribe.


The wrapper is brittle, medium brown. The cap is placed sloppy but the construction feels good. The ring is simple, brushed gold with black in a busy patters and white lettering. The cigar has a mild aroma that reminds me of burned wood, like three days after a building burned down.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste mild leather. After lighting I taste some warm leather with a little gravy like spice. Then the flavors fade and change to an earthy, leathery and slightly rough. The flavors are very mild. After a third I taste wood with some pepper, slightly harsh. The final third is a bit musty, a bit peppery, a little sweet and with a little lemon.


The draw is great. The ash is almost white. The smoke is white and medium in thickness and volume. The burn is good and I would call this cigar mild to medium bodied and and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? No.

Score: 82
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Categories: 82, La Flor de Rosa, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Benchmade Toro

I remember that close to a decade ago people were raving about the new La Aroma de Cuba, blended by Don Pepin but owned by Ashton but back then the cigar wasn’t available in Europe. When it finally got released, under the name La Aroma del Caribe due to copyrights, Ashton simultaneously released their budget medium filler Benchmade, also made at the My Father Cigars factory and I remember that I didn’t dislike them, which is rare for a budget cigar. But I haven’t smoked them in years, time to revisit the cigar for this budget month.


The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, from filler to wrapper, everything comes from Nicaragua. There are 5 sizes, a 5×50 robusto, a 5 1/2×54 gordo, a 6×50 toro which I’m smoking, a 6 1/2×46 cazadores and a 7×50 churchill. And even though it’s a budget cigar, they don’t come in bundles but in boxes, which make them look worth more than what you pay for.


The cigar has a dark wrapper with some black smears and spots, it looks very tasty. The construction feels good and I like the little pig tail. The broken white ring shows a bunch of drying tobacco leaves and the name benchmade in golden letters. The aroma is faint, I smell a bit of a barnyard aroma.


I just twisted the pigtail off and the cold draw is good, it’s quite spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy strong leather. The leather remains with a little sweetness yet the spice never disappears. After a third I taste cinnamon with still some leather. Halfway I taste some French toast with leather and pepper. The final third is peppery with a hint of sugar and cinnamon. The finale has the leather flavor again.


The draw is good, as can be expected from a mixed filler cigar. The smoke is medium in volume and thickness, it has a brownish color. The ash, with wide rings, has that same brown color. The burn is nice, the cigar isn’t boring due to the evolution. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a nice snack cigar.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Benchmade, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Schizo Maduro Robusto

After the success of the Schizo, with a Habano wrapper, it was no surprise that Asylum Cigars, the company owned by Christian Eiroa and Tom Lazuka, built on that brand and released a Schizo Maduro. Unlike the normal Schizo, which is made at the Nicaraguan NACSA factory, most famous for Steve Saka’s Mi Querida, this Schizo Maduro is made in Honduras in Eiroa’s own El Aladino factory.


The cigar is a so called Cuban sandwich, which means that it contains part longfiller and part scrap that was leftover. Not that it means it’s inferior product, just smaller pieces of tobacco. The filler and binder are Honduran, but the wrapper is a Mexican San Andres maduro


The cigar looks a little rough, dark and even a little intimidating. The construction is good, just like the finishing. The ring is the same as the regular Schizo but with an added mint green ring with the word Maduro. The aroma is quite mild, a bit floral and minty.


The draw is quite loose after a cut with a guillotine cutter. The cold draw is a bit minty, but faint. After lighting I taste coffee with chocolate and mint. After a third the mint disappears, I still taste coffee but the dark chocolate gains some strength and I taste some vinegar too. In the final third I taste wood and pepper too.


The draw is a bit loose, but the smoke is thick and white. The gray ash is coarse. The burn is good. I would call this cigar medium at most, both in flavor and body. The smoke time is an hour and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s not a bad budget cigar though.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, El Aladino, Honduran cigars, Schizo | Tags: , , , , , ,

Schizo Robusto

A few years back, when I was still working as a sales rep, my employer went to Florida for his holiday and he called me. He said “I smoked a cigar, price quality is amazing, I have never heard of the brand, what do you know?” and he was talking about Asylum 13. That brand was brand new back then and I quickly found out it was Christian Eiroa’s come back in the cigar industry. So I reached out to Christian for prices and a possible distribution agreement for The Netherlands and then waited on an answer.


That answer came a few days later. My employer was back in the country, it was a national holiday so he and his family, a mutual friend and his family and I went to a beach club in Bloemendaal to drink champagne on the beach on a sunny day when I got an email from Christian with the prices. The price sheet included the Schizo bundles and we we looking for a good bundle cigar, so I did my calculations right there and then, said “no, this can’t be”, did the math again and said to my employer “no brainer, this is so dirt cheap, we can sell this like hot cakes”. We ordered and weren’t able to keep enough stock, the bundles were hot.


The cigar looks good, the wrapper is quite dark and leathery. The construction feels good and the shape of the cigar, as well as the cap, are fine. The ring is white with glossy silver and dark copper skull, plus silver letters schizo. Well printed, but not my kind of style. The aroma is medium strong and has a stable smell, like cow manure and hay.


I used my butterfly cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is good, with a little spice. After lighting I taste coffee with some Maduro sweetness and pepper. After an inch I taste a musty spice with some muted sweetness, like an old gingerbread. After a third I taste sweetness but a little harsh. Halfway I also taste some dark chocolate. At the end the cigar turns slightly harsh.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The burn is quite straight. The gray ash is coarse yet reasonably firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer the Maduro

Score: 85
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Categories: 85, Nicaragua American Cigars S.A., Nicaraguan cigars, Schizo | Tags: , , , , ,

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