Posts Tagged With: Erik Espinosa

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
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
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
Cigars smoked: 15
Highest score: 93
Lowest score: 79
Average score: 90


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


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


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


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


flag 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

Cornelius & Anthony Señor Esugars Toro

Last year, right before intertabac, my friend Courtney Smith contacted me and asked me if I would be there. Turned out she was coming to the trade show with her new company, Cornelius and Anthony. We hung out a bit and she gave me the three blends they had at the booth, the Cornelius, the Venganza and the Daddy Mac. This year Courtney and her co-worker Todd Vance were at the trade show again and I came home with the other blends, Meridian, Aerial and this Señor Esugars plus some artwork for my man cave.

I love the artwork on the cigars, we talked about how Cornelius looked like H.H. Holmes even though it’s the real Cornelius who’s the brand named after and also on the artwork of this Señor Esugars. It’s the dog of brand owner Steven Bailey, he was holding her while Courtney took a picture. The artist who made the Cornelius artwork took the picture to the next level and the artwork of the Señor Esugars was born.

The Mexican wrapper on this cigar is dark, rustic and a little rough to the touch but it fits the cigar. The sample I had only came with the beautiful Cornelius & Anthony ring, very detailed, well printed but without a secondary ring like all the other blends did. The construction is good with a clear triple cap, the rollers at La Zona did a good job. The aroma is strong, sweet and acidic with a hint of charred wood after campfire in the forest.

I cut the cigar with a double blade guillotine cutter. The cold draw is perfect, the cold draw leaves a peppery flavor on my lips but on my lips only. I lit the cigar carefully with a soft flame and taste coffee with some lemon and herbs. After a few puffs the coffee turns to dry wood with pepper in the back of my throat. Halfway it’s wood, herbs and pepper, balanced but it gives me a dry mouth. The pepper is no longer in the back of my throat but more to the front. Slowly a spice mix shows up, cumin and nutmeg come to mind. The pepper grows a little and so does the lemon. The final third is strong, full of flavor, wood, spices and pepper all balanced out by a little acidity.

The draw is flawless, the smoke is voluminous, thick and white. The burn needed a little correction once.  The salt and pepper colored ash is frayed but firm. This cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is close to two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Damn right I will!

Score: 92

Categories: 92, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cigar of the month August

Just like every month I post the list of cigars I published that month in rating order, highest to lowest and in August I rated 15 cigars

The cigar with the highest rate in August is:

Don Fernando Corona with a 94 score.
Now as for the complete list of cigars I published at Cigarguideblog in August:

1) Don Fernando Corona(Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Mi Querida Sakakhan (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) 601 La Bomba Napalm (Nicaragua) 94 points
4) La Sagrada Familia Toro (Nicaragua) 91 points
5) Illusione ~hl~  Lancero (Honduras) 91 points
6) Rosalones Reserve Corona (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) Royal Danish Regal Blend Belicoso (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Indian Motorcycles Habano Robusto (Dominican Republic) 90 points
9) La Gloria Cuban Medaille D’Or #3 (Cuba) 89 points
10) Capadura 808 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 88 points
11) Capadura 808 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 87 points
12) Juan Clemente Club Selection #2 (Dominican Republic) 82 points
13) Juan Clemente Classic #2 (Dominican Republic) 82 points
14) Capadura 848 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 80 points
15) Capadura 898 Robusto (Dominican Republic) 72 points


Categories: Cigar of the month | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murcielago Churchill

There are a lot of cigar groups on Facebook and in some of those groups people like to combine days with cigar brands, like Tatuaje Tuesday and Fuente Friday. Since I have so many unpublished reviews and need to post a lot I decided that this week will be a week dedicated to the weekday – cigar combinations and I came up with a few of my own.

This week I will post a review every day, monday to sunday, all with the name tied to the weekday, here’s the list:

Murcielago Monday
Tatuaje Tuesday
Warped Wednesday
Taboo Thursday
Fuente Friday
Santiago Saturday
Sosa Sunday

Murcielago Monday – Murcielago Churchill

I guess I got this cigar back in 2012 when I met Eric Espinosa at a small party at the Miami cigar lounge El Clique where I was hanging with Frank Herrera, Jonathan Drew, Jorge from Havana Sabor and some friends and since then the brand has disappeared and reappeared but with a rebranded logo and a little changed blend because Espinosa and his business parter Eddie Ortega parted ways after Rocky Patel discontinued distributing EO brands, or maybe Rocky Patel stopped because Eddie and Eric wanted to part ways, I don’t know all I know is that Espinosa now has a great factory, La Zona, in Esteli and gained control over the Murcielago brand.

But since this is the old blend I figure this one comes from the My Father factory where EO brands had their cigars made before La Zona started, but that’s no disqualification because My Father Cigars is one of the best factories in my opinion, yet La Zona is great too, uncomparable by size and location, My Father Cigars is impressive and the flow within the buildings is so well thought off yet La Zona has the charme of an old building, the coziness of a small factory and the best deck in the whole of Esteli to enjoy a cigar although the deck at Drew Estate isn’t too shabby either.

The 7 1/8×48 long cigar looks beautiful yet the Mexican binder in rough and that creates a very uneven surface underneath the oily and dark Mexican San Andres wrapper, that is pretty though without any real veins, just a few baby ones. The construction feels good and the cap is placed perfectly. My initial thought when I saw the ring was ‘Bacardi” because of the red background and the black bat. On top is says espinosa y ortega and murcielago at the bottom surrounded by a golden ring. Simple yet functional, but that Bacardi feel …. i’m not a Bacardi fan, for years I said I didn’t like rum because the only rum I tried was Bacardi and I missed out on some great stuff because of that. The cigar has a medium strong aroma that is a mix between manure and smokey wood, almost charred.

I cut the cigar and the cold draw is great with a peppery, mild acidic, raisin flavor. Right after lighting I taste coffee with some chocolate. The chocolate is growing a little stronger with pepper and some wood. Suddenly I taste a strong barbecue wood flavor with a hint of chocolate and a strong peppery aftertaste. After a third I also taste some mint with the pepper. Halfway the main flavor is wood with a faint chocolate flavor, with pepper and a fresh aftertaste. The pepper is slowly taking over. The last part starts with a peppery wood with still a faint chocolate. The pepper grows stronger and stronger and it might be the most peppery finish I ever tasted in a cigar.

The draw is great, the smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The light colored ash is dense and quite firm. The burn is great, straight as an arrow. This is a full bodied and full flavored cigar, Nicaragua at its strongest but well balanced. The smoke time is little over two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I need to smoke the new blend, but would love some of these old ones too.

Score: 92



Categories: 92, Murcielago, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cornelius & Anthony Daddy Mac Robusto

The cigar I latest highest this year so far is the Cornelius and Anthony Cornelius Toro, a pretty new brand that I got introduced to by my friend Courtney Smith, who’s working for them, at the Intertabac trade show last september in Dortmund, Germany. I smoked a few of these cigars during the show and actually when we were clubbing on friday night with Courtney, Steven & Todd fro C&A, Tony Gomez from La Flor Dominicana, Riste Riatevski from Jas Sum Kral and the ultimate party guy Rocky Patel I just lit up a Daddy Mac when the DJ started a 90’s hiphop set including Kris Kross Jump “The Mac Dad will make you jump jump, Daddy Mac will make you jump jump”. Gotta love the irony there right? But to cut a long story short, the Cornelius Toro is the best cigar I reviewed so far this year, lets see what the Daddy Mac does.

The Daddy Mac is named after Steven Bailey’s father, Mac, and everybody at the company calls him Daddy Mac. The cigar comes from another factory than the El Titan de Bronze made Cornelius since this cigar, just like the Meridian and Venganza lines, are produced by Erik Espinosa in his La Zona factory in downtown Esteli. For those who know Esteli and know La Zona probably agree with me that there is no better place to sit down and smoke a cigar than on the rooftop terrace at La Zona, with the overview of the city and the mountains on the background, watching the crazy traffic, sipping on a great Cuban style coffee or an alcoholic beverage and listen to the great stories told by Mr. Warmth Hector Alfonso. The 5×52 robusto is made with a Brazilian wrapper, Ecuadorean binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar has a dark oak colored wrapper with a beautiful triple cap and just like the Cornelius it has a double ring, one brand name ring that is just drop dead gorgeous, white, black, gold, grey and very detailed with a second, smaller, black ring with gold lining and golden letters saying Daddy Mac.

The construction feels good and the triple cap finishes the looks of the cigar. The cigar doesn’t have a strong aroma, its a mild to medium hay aroma at best. I used my punch to cap the cigar. The cold draw is good, a little on the tight side but just a little. I taste a wooden and peppery flavor. At first I taste cedar with a little coffee. After a centimeter I taste spicy yet citrusy wood. It’s all a bit musty though, reminds me of Connecticut shade but it isn’t.

After a third cigar is spicy, yet a little musty with a base flavor of cedar. Halfway I also taste a little sweetness. I taste a bitter flavor on the tip of my tongue, which I don’t like too much. When I take a sip of water I taste a flavor that I can’t describe but I like it and it tones down the bitterness on my tongue. The overall feeling of the flavors are creamy. Close to two thirds I taste licorice, a flavor I like. The cigar also gets some pepper. Passed the two thirds mark taste more of the sweetness. The cigar finishes strong with nutmeg, cedar and pepper.

The smoke is thick and more than decent in amount. The ash is light gray, dense in structure and firm. The draw is good, not perfect, it’s slightly to tight for my liking. The burn is great, slow and quite straight. This cigar is medium to medium plus bodied cigar and medium plus flavored, well balanced and with sufficient evolution. The smoke time is about 100 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I prefer the Cornelius

Score: 88


Categories: 88, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A great book about Nicaraguan cigars

Somewhere in the autumn of 2014 my then employer Sasja van Horssen was approached by his friend and lifestyle journalist Marcel Langedijk with the question if we could help him setting up a trip to Esteli, Nicaragua for him and photographer Jesaja Hizkia and get him in touch with some cigar manufacturers for interviews and pictures in the factories. Marcel, who has been to Nicaragua more often, thought it was time that Nicaragua got a beautiful coffee table book about the cigar lifestyle too, a book nobody ever did except about Cuba and that the time was right for a book about Nicaragua considering the growing sales numbers, superb quality and the growing appreciation for Nicaraguan tobacco, not just in the USA but also in the rest of the world. Nicaraguan cigars dominate the ‘top 25’ lists the last few years and so a book seems appropriate.

I set up a trip, meetings at Joya de Nicaragua, A.J. Fernandez, Rocky Patel, Plasencia, Oliva, Padron and Drew Estate as requested, personally I would have added Perdomo as a major player too, Nica Suenos from my friend Skip Martin and back then I hadn’t met Noel Rojas yet otherwise I would have added him too and interviews with a few boutique brand owners, and I got to come along as I made all the appointments and had all the contacts, my then employer went along as translator as he’s fluent in Spanish. At our hotel, Los Arcos, I met Hector from Espinosa Cigars/La Zona and after seeing the La Zona factory Marcel and Jesaja decided on the spot that they had to be included in the book too, just as the Fe Y Alegria school we visited, a school that’s being supported by Pronica, a foundation that I helped to get started for with & for my then employer.

The name of the book is Cigaragua, a name that Marcel came up with after a few glasses of Flor de Caña. We were having some drinks and cigars at the courtyard of Los Arcos when Marcel just blurted out that name and immediately said “no, that’s to cryptic” but Jesaja and I were sold, perfect name. The next morning Marcel changed his mind and started to like the name more and more, and decided to go forward with the name.

The 12×12 inch coffee table book is not just about tobacco but also shows Esteli, Jesaja Hizkia took a lot of great pictures that are included in the book. The book is now available in Dutch and English and Spanish, German and possible French translations could follow in th near future. I know there are plans to release it in the United States as well but Marcel didn’t say when even though I asked, so if you want to know when the book is being released in your country contact Marcel or Sasja van Horssen.

Other than setting up this trip and proof reading the book before it went to the printer, I am not involved with the book, I gain no money from sales or promoting the book. But I like the book (and Nicaraguan cigars) so much that I wanted to spread the word about the book anyway.

Here are some pictures I took from the book (with my iPhone):


And I shot a little video: Cigaragua video on youtube

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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