Posts Tagged With: intertabac 2016

Mi Querida SakaKhan

When I met Steve Saka at the Intertabac Trade show he gave me two cigars, the Sobremesa Short Churchill, which I reviewed back in January and rated 93, and this 7×50 Mi Querida Churchill nicknamed SakaKhan. Now I’m looking forward to smoke this beautiful looking cigar with the Connecticut River Valley broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos but for this review I decided to google some background information and I glad I did otherwise I would have been writing some wrong information here, for example naming the wrong manufacturer.


I know Steve has tight connections with the guys at Joya de Nicaragua, I know Juan Martinez pretty well and he always praised working with Steve. When Steve Saka was CEO at Drew Estate they started working together with a distribution deal in the USA where Drew Estate up till today is distributing Joya as well and Joya producing some cigars for Drew Estate at their facilities, and once he started his Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust he went to Joya for the Sobremesa. So I was surprised to find out that the Mi Querida isn’t produced by Joya but by NACSA, a manufacturer that produces for more companies, for example they also produce Asylum for Christian Eiroa & Tom Lazuka’s Asylum Cigars. I asked Steve why and he explained that he picks the factory that suits the best for that specific blend, and in this case it was NACSA.


The cigar looks majestic, the combination of the length, the dark smooth wrapper with the flattened veins, the beautiful triple cap and the simple yet tasteful ring just scream elegance yet power. This is a cigar I would pick at the cigar shop if I didn’t know anything about cigars and just shopped on appearance. The ring is dark blue with thick golden outline and a swirly font saying Mi Querida in gold as well. The ring has gear wheel like edges that set it apart from all other simple bands and can only be done on thick paper. The construction feels great, evenly filled, not too soft or too hard. The cigar has a mild ammonia and forest aroma. I punched the cigar and get a good cold draw with a peppery flavor. My trusted Ronson varaflame lit the cigar.


Right from the start i taste a very pleasant coffee flavor with sweetness, like espresso with a sugar cube. After a centimeter the flavor is woody, with some caramel and some pepper. Slowly i start to taste spices too. After a third the cigar gets sweeter. The flavors are not strong but so beautifully balanced, it’s amazing. Halfway I taste chocolate with a little cayenne pepper. There is also a honey like sweetness along with the other flavors. The sweet chocolate is getting stronger. After two thirds I taste some dark wood again, mild spicy, honey and a very mild citrus. Near the end the flavors all grow in strength with a nice, balanced dose of pepper. The last centimeter is pepper and nuts.


The smoke is medium thick at the start but is slowly gets thicker. The draw is great. The white ash is beautifully layered with some black smears. The burn is slow and just a little bit off. This medium full bodied and full flavored, extremely well balanced cigar gave me two and a half hours of cigar enjoyment.

Would I buy this cigar again? Without a doubt, I thought there wasn’t much room for improvement at the Sobremesa but this Mi Querido is even better.

Score: 94

94
edit: Steve Saka responded to the review on Facebook: “The manufacturer is NACSA – a very well known factory in our industry for producing value priced cigars. About 2 years ago they decided they really wanted to step up their game which included a total retrofit of their facility, a wholesale change over of their top and key personnel and the decision to work with a total pain in the a$$ – me. Many people in the industry said I was crazy, but imo they are just lazy and do not understand potential or what is needed to push a factory into being its best. I got the wacky-tabacy factory to make Liga Privada, while JDN has been a great factory on their own merits I was able to get them to expand their horizons flavor and blending wise, so working to improve an economy factory into becoming a factory that could craft true premiums was a walk-in-the-park particularly since they wanted to change, to do more and they took aggressive action to do so… many people forget that master cigar makers like Fuente and Padron originally started out as bundle cigar operations. And through hard work and dedication to the craft they have become two of the very best in the world. IMO, Mi Querida is the finest cigar every produced at NACSA, but it will not be their last – they have the right people and practices in place now to make exceptional handmade premiums in addition to maintaining their value priced production cigars.”

Categories: 94, Mi Querida, Nicaragua American Cigars S.A., Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigar of the month June

I reviewed a lot of cigars for the month of June, more than you are used to but that’s because of two reasons. The first is the ‘series review’, a review in which I reviewed 5 cigars from the same line yet rated them individually and the second reason is the ‘day – name of the cigar connection’ week in which I published a review every single day. I did that because I had too many unpublished reviews drafted.

Well, here’s the list for June, with a close finish but the cigar of the month is:

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro with a 95 score.

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published at Cigarguideblog in June:

1) Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Warped Little Havana Corona Gorda (USA) 95 points
3) RomaCraft Wanderlust Prerelease Robusto (Nicaragua) 93 points
4) Fuente Añejo Shark (Dominican Republic) 92 points
5) Murcielago Churchill (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) La Flor de Cano Casanova (Cuba) 91 points
7) Nicoya Fuerte Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) Illusione ~hl~ Candela Lancero (Honduras) 91 points
9) Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserve Toro (Nicaragua) 90 points
10) Santiago Habano Toro (Nicaragua) 90 points
11) Sosa Auric Perfectum Wavel (Dominican Republic) 88 points
12) Ramon Allones 898 (Cuba) 86 points
13) Taboo Sumatra Churchill (Honduras) 79 points
14) 04 (Dominican Republic) 77 points
15) 03 (Dominican Republic) 77 points
16) 02 (Dominican Republic) 77 points
17) 05 (Dominican Republic) 76 points
18) 01 (Dominican Republic) 72 points

 

 



All I can say: if you haven’t had the pleasure of smoking any Jas Sum Kral then ask your local shop for them or order online straight from the source.

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

Santiago Habano Toro

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

Santiago Saturday – Santiago Habano Toro

Last september at Intertabac I met the guys from Santiago de los Caballeros cigars, a private label cigar company that have their cigars made in Esteli by the Plasencia Family. They gave me a few samplers and last January I reviewed the Santiago Maduro Robusto, last month I reviewed the Santiago Connecticut Robusto and today I’m reviewing the Habano blend in a 6×50 Toro shape. The cigar has a blend of Nicaraguan and Mexican tobacco as filler, a Nicaraguan binder and a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper. I don’t know what the MSRP for these cigars are or where they are for sale. To be honest, before I met the guys I never heard of the brand.


Now the Maduro was a pretty decent cigar, that raised my expectations for this habano. The wrapper is beautiful, very dark, mild shiny with a dry appearance. I see a few veins. The ring is beautiful, its a dark green, close to grey, with golden linings and white letters Santiago de Los Caballeros Nicaragua but what makes the band stand out is the shiny, black and slightly raised cross. The bottom ring is the same greenish gray with golden lining and blue letters Habano, something I would have done in white to make it matching. The construction feels evenly, but a little soft. The triple cap is gorgeous. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of stray on the barn floor right before it’s cleaned out after being peed on by cows all night. Now that sounds disgusting, but cigar smokers know what I mean and that its not a bad thing.


I decided to punch the cigar and I’m glad I did as the cold draw is loose, cutting it might have made the draw even easier. I taste pepper and some cocoa. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and the start is bitter. After half a centimeter the bitterness tones down to a tolerable level and I also taste some sweetness and coffee. After an inch it’s still coffee but with cocoa. Halfway the flavor reminds me of roasted nuts. The flavor remains but after two thirds it get company from pepper, mainly on my lips. With an inch and a half to go I clearly notice the turning point and I toss the cigar.


The smoke is thick, white and luscious. The draw is a little too loose for my preference. The ash is silver gray and you clearly see the layers. The ash is frayed but firm. The burn is straight. This medium plus bodied cigar is medium bodied and the smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.


Would I buy this cigar again? Depends on the price, it’s a good cigar but there are many good cigars comparable to this one so the price would be a factor.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Nicaraguan cigars, Santiago | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nicoya Fuerte Robusto

In January I wrote a review about a new brand, Nicoya, and I smoked the Nicoya Medio, the milder of the two lines that the Australian entrepreneur and cigar aficionado Gerard Hayes has made by A.J. Fernandez in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. As for the name, as I wrote back in January, according to Hayes the name is chosen to praise the Nicaraguans yet there are others that claim that Nicaraguans aren’t called Nicoya but it’s a piece of Costa Rica that used to be Nicaraguan. As I said back then, I’m not an expert and not knowledgable enough to pick sides so I’m just gonna leave it there.


The Nicoya Fuerte only comes in one size 5×52 that Hayes picked because its the most popular size when it comes to sales and it can be smoked is a reasonable time. The filler is all Nicaraguan while the binder and wrapper are Ecuadorean habano, or Sun Grown as we call that in Europe since the Cubans were able toe trademark “habano” and “cuba” even though international laws clearly state you can’t trademark a country. As I take the cigar out of the cellophane I smell a very strong barnyard aroma with some ammonia. The wrapper, that is dark like dark oak feels very silky. The construction feels good with a beautifully rounded single cap. The ring is amazing, very simple, 2 smaller and one bigger purple circle with a white N in the middle circle and white lions in the smaller circles and white lettering Nicoya Cigars Esteli Nicaragua on the silver borders. The back of the ring are wing shaped and thats a nice detail.


I punched the cigar, the ring gauge is 52 so big enough to punch. The cold draw is surprisingly easy and has a little raisin and a lot of pepper. After I used my trusted Ronson to light the cigar I taste a strong coffee with pepper. After a centimeter I taste coffee, less strong as in the beginning, with some leather, spice and a little citrus. After an inch I also taste cocoa and the pepper is back full force. The citrus gained more strength. Halfway it’s leather, cedar, pepper and now a mild citrus mix of flavors. Soon after I taste dark chocolate, like the 72% dark chocolate and the pepper is habanero. Every now and then I also taste hints of vanilla. The finish is a solid coffee again, more towards espresso to be precise.


The smoke is amazing, so thick, so full and so much, the maximum amount of points there and my air cleaner is working overtime. The draw is great, just a tiny bit loose. The ash is light gray and firm, it’s dense too. The burn is good, not perfect but also not touch ups needed. This cigar is full bodied, no question about that, and full flavored. The flavors also linger around for a long time. The smoke time is a solid hour and a half.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, although the Nicoya Medios is a bit more balanced. This is an after barbecue cigar.

Score: 91

91

Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Nicoya, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Santiago Connecticut Robusto

At Intertabac 2016 I met the guys of Santiago cigars who shared their booth with Gerard from Nicoya. As we were talking about cigars, about their brand, a private label made by Plasencia as so many others they gave me a few of their cigars to review. I had very good cigars made by Plasencia, I had bad ones and I probably had a lot of Plasencia cigars without even knowing they are made by this very influential family that are the biggest growers of tobacco in Nicaragua and Honduras with huge cigar factories on both sides of the border too. If you ever happen to be in Esteli, try to visit the cathedral of tobacco as the Plasencia factory is being called by everybody and do yourself a favor, peek at the daycare centre Plasencia founded across the street too, if you’re lucky the kids will sing a song and do a dance for you, its adorable.


Now Roberto from Santiago handed me their three blends, a habano, a maduro and a Connecticut. I warned Robert as I hate Connecticut. To me it’s a demonic invention and I picture hell as a huge hipster filled cigar shop with nothing but Connecticut shade cigars, an alcohol free bar and only vegan food. But, and I have heard this from many manufacturers including some big names, Roberto swore me that their Connecticut shade is different than all other. None of the manufacturers that said this to me were right though, there is something about Connecticut shade that makes me despise it, the musty taste, the pale look, its not my thing but the same tobacco grown broadleaf is a whole different thing though, that I love.


The Santiago Connecticut Robusto is a 5×50 box pressed cigar, made in the Nicaraguan factory of Plasencia with Nicaraguan filler, a double binder, both from Nicaragua and a Connecticut Shade wrapper from the Talanga region of Honduras. The wrapper is typical Connecticut shade, pale, thin and it has a few veins. The construction is flawless though with a beautiful triple cap. The ring is beautiful, its a dark green, close to grey, with golden linings and white letters Santiago de Los Caballeros Nicaragua but what makes the band stand out is the shiny, black and slightly raised cross. The bottom ring is the same greenish gray with golden lining and red letters Connecticut, something I would have done in white to make it matching. This is the exact same comment as I made for the Habano version of the cigar btw and I do understand why they didn’t do it in white but in different colors to make the cigars stand apart more in a humidor, but I think the different colors of the wrapper should already do that. The aroma is a like walking into a dry barn where the farmer just put down some fresh hay before the sheep or cow come back in.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great. The flavor is mellow except for a strong pepper on my lips. I lit the cigar with my vintage Ronson, my favorite lighter. The flavor is actually quite nice, sweet coffee with some cinnamon except I also taste a little bit of the typical Connecticut Shade mustiness. After a centimeter I taste some cedar with a little bit of salt and sweetness but unfortunately the mustiness gets stronger too. After a thirds the mustiness is getting to the level I expect from a Shade cigar but surprisingly I also taste a pretty strong red pepper. Halfway the mustiness tones down, I now taste cedar again with cinnamon, some sweetness and a nice amount of pepper. Near the end I taste the mustiness again with some pepper and nuts.


The smoke is medium thick and medium in volume. The ash is light colored, dense and firm. The draw is just perfect. The burn is fine, not razor sharp but also not crooked. The cigar is mild bodied but medium plus flavored. The smoke time is an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? No but if someone gifts me one I will smoke it again and that I don’t say about a lot of Connecticut Shade cigars. Roberto was right when he said that this cigar isn’t the same as other Shade cigars.

Score: 89

Categories: 89, Nicaraguan cigars, Santiago | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kristoff Classic Blend Toro

Last september, at the Intertabac trade show I ran into Glen Case and Ward from Kristoff, a brand that I used to represent when I was still employed at my previous employer and Ward gave me their new release for the European market, the Kristoff Classic Blend. Now my American readers might think “I don’t know that one”, well, its just the Kristoff Habano but somehow the Cubans got Habano trademarked so that can’t be used. A lot of brands like Oliva, Perdomo and many others use ‘Sun Grown’ instead but Kristoff decided to go with Classic for this Brazilian Habano wrapped cigar with the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. The brand won an award at the Cigarjournal dinner too, so it was a succesful trip for the company.


Ever since I smoked my first Kristoff cigar I loved the brand, the cigars look good, taste good and are budget friendly priced but unfortunately we can only get a few blends in The Netherlands and this isn’t one of them so I saved the cigar that Ward gave me for a review and today I decided it was time to light it. The cigar, like all but one Kristoff cigars, are made at the Charles Fairmorn factory in Santiago, DR and I guess they are the best client of Charles Fairmorn as I don’t hear a lot about that factory. I know they make Epic cigars too, but that is just a very small brand here in The Netherlands and judging from the Social Media information I get Kristoff if a much bigger brand in the USA too than Epic.


The cigar has the same look as all other Kristoff cigars, that means a closed foot, which I love, and a nice pigtail. The construction feels good and the pigtail and closed foot, combined with the dark, shiny and oily wrapper make this cigar a looker. The ring is silver colored with brown details and beige letters saying ‘hencho a mano dominicana’ and ‘Kristoff’ while the smaller bottom ring says ‘classic blend’ in the same colors. The aroma is a bit manure, a bit horse and a bit freshly plowed farmfield, medium strong.


Because of the pigtail I had no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is very good and I taste raisin and pepper. I used my vintage Ronson to light the cigar and I taste a mild coffee. After a centimeter I still taste the coffee but now with a nice metallic aftertaste. After an inch I taste wood with a little bit of nuts and some lime, in the aftertaste I taste a mild pepper. After a third the main flavor is lemon with some cocoa, cedar and vanilla, the flavors are subtle. The lemon gets a little less stronger while the cocoa turns into chocolate. Later the cigar turns full cedar with pepper and just a little lemon. A few puffs later I taste some lightly salted peanuts too. Slowly the pepper gains some strength. Near the end I taste nuts with autumn leaves and a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is a bit too loose and that leads to a poor amount of thin smoke in the beginning but after a few puffs the draw improved and with that the smoke too. I had to correct the burn too in the first centimeter but after that it was straight and easy going. The ash is beautifully white. I would call this a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, simply yes. Especially the last third is fantastic.

Score: 91
number91

Categories: 91, Charles Fairmorn, Dominican cigars, Kristoff | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

88

Categories: 88, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

La Flor Dominicana La Nox

Now here I will talk about my previous employer and job again as mentioned in so many of my recent reviews and that’s because I met a lot of great industry people and learned a lot in my 5 years at The Longfiller Company. One of the people I met are the ultimate gentleman Litto Gomez and his son Tony. First time I met Litto was when he came to The Netherlands when The Longfiller Company was distributing La Flor Dominicana and on my yearly vacation to Florida I always went for lunch with Litto, who made time in his weekends just for me & my friends even though his weekends are sacred family time, something I am grateful for. On one of those lunches he brought his sons Litto Jr and Anthony. Tony just started working for his father at the factory in the Dominican and wasn’t involved in the blending process when we met. We had a great lunch at the rooftop of a nice restaurant somewhere in Miami, it was a memorable lunch.


Now for some reason the La Flor Dominicana sales came to a stop, it was like hitting a brick wall and both me and my boss didn’t have a clue why. The quality of the cigars was good as always, the price didn’t change so why the sales came to a stop was a huge mystery and my employer decided not to order anymore, the last new release of La Flor Dominicana we ordered was the Chapter one. The whole sales stop killed the professional relationship, that was so good before that Litto even made a limited Meaner Digger for The Netherlands. Now on a personal level, the relationship stayed intact and I always have a great time with Tony and Litto at Intertabac. As a cigar geek I was bummed that I didn’t get to try all the new releases, and that’s why my former employer is a better professional as me because the geek in me would have ordered anyway and would end up with a warehouse full of cigars just so I could try them myself. Now truth be said, the last few months I worked for The Longfiller Company I did sell all our remaining La Flor Dominicana stock and the demand was definitely up from the consumer and therefore also from the shopowners. Time for La Flor Dominicana to get back on the Dutch market.


Since I read about the La Flor Dominicana La Nox, and seeing the mouthwatering pictures of this stunning cigar, I wanted to try it and at the Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy event at Intertabac, where the cigar won the award for best Dominican cigar of 2016, I had the chance to grab one. Instead of smoking it on the spot I restrained myself and kept it to review it. Today is the day of the review. The cigar looks amazing, the super dark and oily Brazilian wrapper is flawless and the double ring, black with light blue “La Nox” lettering on the bottom ring and the white moon and LFD lettering on the light blue clouds on the top ring are a perfect match to that dark and oily wrapper. The combination is just a 10 out of 10, if I only judged the cigars on their appearance this would be the cigar of the year for many years to come. The rest of the blend consists of a Mexican San Andres wrapper and Dominican filler from their own fields. The construction feels good, no complaints here either. The cigar has a salty aroma to it with some wood, not too strong and not the barnyard aroma that I smell so often in cigars.


I punched the thick wrapper and tested the cold draw, which gave me quite some resistance and a peppery oatmeal with a mild minty freshness. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. I taste a medium strong coffee flavor with sweetness you can expect from Brazilian tobacco and some oatmeal. After a few puffs I also taste some herbs and spices. After a centimeter I also taste a mild chocolate for just a second with herbs and some pepper. I also taste a little sweetness from the Brazilian wrapper. The flavors are thick, meaty and sticky just like I expected just from the looks.

After little more than an inch I taste the sweetness with oak and some citrus and some spicy herbs. Every now and then I also taste some cocoa. The backdrop of the flavors are earthy. After a third I get a flavor that reminds me of slightly salted peanuts with some citrus. The sweetness is gone, I still taste some pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper grows stronger. The cocoa shows up every now and then, just for a puff or two. After two thirds I also taste a mild nutty flavor on that still earthy undertone with some citrus. After two thirds the nutty flavor grows in strength.


The smoke starts out thin but plenty in volume but after a few puffs the smoke gets to a medium plus thickness. The draw is a little on the tough side, probably would be better if i had cut the cigar from the start as it improved greatly after I cut it with my Xikar xi2 cutter. The ash is white and firm. This cigar is full bodied, full of nicotine and full flavored. The burn is good, but I needed to touch up once to correct a little. The body to flavor ratio is great and there is plenty of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they become available on the Dutch market I’m definitely picking up a few and I want an empty box just as a piece of art for my man cave.

Score: 92

92

Categories: 92, Dominican cigars, La Flor Dominicana, Tabacalera La Flor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don Labalet Robusto

After I came back from Intertabac 2016, where I met some old friends, made some new ones, I looked at all the cigars that have been given to me and cataloged them in my online humidor at Stogierate.com. Some of the cigars have been reviewed in the last few months, some others will still be reviewed. The information on most of the cigars was easy to find but I had one cigar, Don Labalet Robusto, that was just no information to be found on and I tried hard but couldn’t remember who gave it to me. And with no information I mean literally no information online I just didn’t have a clue what it was, who made it and where it was from. Fast forward two weeks later, I got a message from Kevin Dooms who works at Gajane, a distributer of premium cigars in The Netherlands, I’ve known Kevin for a few years as his parents own a nice tobacco shop in Zwijndrecht and I used to visit them as a sales rep for The Longfiller Company. At Intertabac we spoke about me being unemployed at the moment, and that I needed a contract to bring my Singaporean wife, whom I just married, over to The Netherlands.


So Kevin, his employer Steph, his colleague Cees and I meet up for lunch at their office and after lunch they give me a cigar, guess what, its a Don Labalet Robusto. And then I found out more about the cigar. Gajane is not only active in The Netherlands but also in Sweden and France and in Sweden they also produce snus (known as dip in the USA) and cigarettes. One of their employees is a Cuban refugee, Osmel Lavalier Castellanos, and it turned out that he used to be a cigar roller back in Cuba. So now, next to his regular job at Gajane, he rolls cigars for and at events. Gajane Netherlands brought him over for a few events and the moment Osmel landed at Schiphol airport he asked “do you have cigar rings?” and that was countered by “do you have a name for the cigar?”. They settled on the name Don Labalet, as that is Osmel’s second name and had bands printed quickly. As far as the blend, I have no idea what tobaccos are used for this specific cigar.


The wrapper has a milky brown wrapper and a very flat head, that makes it great to punch. There is a little damage and I can see a much darker binder. The cigar has a double band, the foot ring is bronze colored with 3 golden stars and black lettering that says “Don Labalet” while the regular ring is black with red and yellow, a white D and a black L. The construction feels great and you can see the Cuban influence in the beatiful triple cap. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma. I’m smoking this cigar during the day instead of my regular routine of reviewing in the evening.


As I said, the head is very flat so I punched the cigar and the cold draw is great, I taste a mild spicy raw tobacco flavor. I light the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. The first flavor is a mild coffee, more latte than regular coffee. After a centimeter i taste a mild and muted cinnamon and a caramel like sweetness on top of a wood flavor. After an inch I lost the caramel but instead I taste a mild milky chocolate with the wood and the muted cinnamon. Halfway it’s a dry wood, muted cinnamon and a dominant caramel sweetness again. After two thirds the wood gets replaced by nuts, the cinnamon is gone and the caramel is still dominant. Soon after there is a herbal spicy flavor too with the retuned cinnamon and the caramel. The last few puffs are peppery.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a lot of smoke. The ash is beautiful light gray, almost white, with some darker accents and quite firm. The draw is perfect and the burn is straight. The cigar is mild to medium bodied and medium flavored, a great morning cigar that I think, would not be suitable after a dinner. The cigar is well balanced and for an ‘event only’ cigar not related to any brand this cigar surprises me pleasantly. The smoke time is little over an hour.

Would I buy this cigar again? That will be impossible since its an event only cigar and I don’t know if the same sort of tobacco is available for the next event.

Score: 89

89

Categories: 89, Don Labalet, Dutch cigars | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fratello Boxer Box Pressed Torpedo

The first time I ever heard of the Fratello brand was in may 2015 when I was visiting the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and I spotted the brand. I didn’t know what it was, so I asked Juan Martinez and he explained that it was a private label for a gentleman named Omar de Frias. Fast forward a year later, due to the new then pending TPD2 regulations the company I worked for bought 2 boxes of everything of all the brands we distributed and Joya de Nicaragua included every possible size of Fratello and Sobremesa too just to be sure and have these cigars registered on the Dutch market. Included were two boxes of Fratello lancero, a size that we don’t get a lot but as a lover of that vitola I snagged both boxes for myself


In september of last year I met Omar at the Joya de Nicaragua booth at Intertabac, we chatted a bit and he said “let me give you my favorite cigar” and handed me this 6 1/2×52 Fratello Boxer box pressed torpedo. A quick look on their website taught me that the cigar is made with filler from Nicaragua and Peru, a Ecuadorean Sumatra binder and a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. As the name suggests, the cigar is box pressed. The wrapper has a nice medium dark wrapper, to reminds me of a bar of chocolate, with a few veins that rolled in a way you don’t see them on the face of the cigar. The ring is great, not a ‘straight’ ring with a diagonal written text but a true diagonal ring with a vibrant red color, white letters and black lining. The footboard is black with red lining and white letters.


The construction of this cigar feels very good, I can’t feel any plugs or soft spots but then again, I can’t recall ever having a bad rolled Joya de Nicaragua cigar. The aroma isn’t strong and quite spicy, a bit like paprika powder and other kitchen spices, quite unique. I used a flat cut to cut the cigar. The foot band was stuck to the cigar so I damaged the wrapper taking the ring off. The cold draw is great and I taste spicy raisins. I use a soft flame to light the cigar. I taste roasted coffee beans and an earthy flavor.


After a centimeter the coffee disappears and I taste that earthy flavor with a nice dose of refreshing lemon. The lemon tones down a little and I taste a little bit of cocoa with it. The earthy flavor is still the base of it all. After a third the earthy flavor is all I taste. Halfway the coffee returns with a little bit of lemon. Slowly the cigar gets a little spicy with a little parsley and pepper. The lemon gets stronger again. The pepper is slowly taking the overhand. I also taste a faint cocoa again. Near the end I taste pepper and a bit chocolate with a little nuts.


The draw is good even though I cut the cigar very close to the top and therefore not opening up all smoke channels. That does effect the smoke, that could be thicker and more luscious. The ash isn’t very pretty at the start but the color and the structure gets better along the way, it’s relatively firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and equally flavored. The smoke time is two hours exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the lancero better.

Score: 89

89

Categories: 89, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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