Posts Tagged With: La Zona

Espinosa Habano Toro

La Zona is quite a new factory but it’s easy to say that I’m a fan. Not only for the great cigars they make, but it’s also a cozy factory downtown Esteli and with the best spot to sit, have a cup of coffee and a cigar on the balcony, overlooking the city with the mountains in the background and just enjoy life. It was one of my highlights of my second trip to Nicaragua, the time that I went for the Cigaragua book.


This is not the time where I bought this 6×52 Espinosa Habano Toro though. I bought it a year earlier when I spend a week in Florida after traveling to Nicaragua. I guess I bought it at one of the Smoke Inn locations or otherwise at the Island Smoke Shop on Key Largo. it’s, as far as I know, Nicaraguan puro with, as the name says, habano wrapper.


When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I see an oily, smooth, glossy wrapper with thin veins. I love the ring, broken white background, golden details, the Espinosa logo in white on a red background, a light blue banner saying Espinosa and a small white banner ‘hecho en la zona’. The foot ring has the same text but with red letters on a light blue background. The cigar feels evenly packed, is squishy in a good way. The cap is decent but not perfect. The cigar has a medium strong aroma of barnyard with a little black pepper.


I used my xikar cutter, the cold draw is great. The flavor is spicy, some lemon, mild peppery. After lighting I taste a nice coffee, smooth and tasty. After half an inch I taste spices, all spice, very nice. The flavors are smooth. After a third I still taste the spices but now with some vanilla and pepper. The final third is more woody, still with the spices and a bit pepper.


The draw is great. The light gray ash is firm and pretty. The smoke is white, thick and great in volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is smooth, medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I want a box.

Score: 93

number93

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Categories: 93, Espinosa, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Cigar of the month March

Last month I reviewed 15 cigars and this is the the list, ranking from best to worst, and the worst was really terrible. One of the lowest ranking cigars on my blog ever!

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Don Lino Africa Kifaro with a 94 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Don Lino Africa Kifaro (Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
3) Casa Fernandez Lancero (Honduras) 92 points
4) La Aurora Para Japon Sumo (Dominican Republic) 91 points
5) Liga Privada #9 Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
6) Montecristo Half Corona (cuba) 90 points
7) C.A.O. Anaconda (Honduras) 90 points
8) Viking Horseman Toro (Dominican Republic) 90 points
9) Don Lino Africa Gorilla Knuckle (Nicaragua) 89 points
10) Quesada 70th Anniversary Toro (Dominican Republic) 89 points
11) Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan (Honduras) 86 points
12) Micallef Gomez Sanchez Herencia (Nicaragua) 80 points
13) Avo XO Intermezzo (Dominican Republic) 79 points
14) Avo Dominant 13th Toro (Dominican Republic) 79 points
15) Di Grisogno For Women Only Corona (Dominican Republic) 73 points

 


 

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Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto

I told the story about this brand a few times in my previous reviews of the Cornelius, Venganza, Daddy Mac and the Señor Esugars so I won’t repeat the story of five generations and why the name Cornelius & Anthony is chosen. I also won’t repeat how I got to know the brand, that I knew Courtney Smith from her previous company. I will just tell that when she gave me the first batch of cigars in 2016 it was just the Daddy Mac, Venganza and Cornelius (that eventually made my top 25 of the year) but at intertabac 2017 she gave me the other blends, the Señor Esugars, the Meridian and this Aerial.


The aerial is made in Esteli, Nicaragua at the La Zona factory of Erik Espinosa. The blend consists from Nicaraguan fillers, a USA grown binder and a Connecticut Shade grown in Ecuador. And even though my preferences changed the last year and I dislike Connecticut Shade less than before it’s still not my favorite wrapper. But as always I go in with an open mind, maybe this is the Connecticut shade that will wow me.


The wrapper is latte colored, relatively dark for a shade grown Connecticut wrapper and it has a soft sandpaper feeling. The ring is amazing, detailed, very well printed but the secondary ring is orange with white letters and doesn’t fit with the Cornelius and Anthony ring because of the color in my opinion. The construction feels good but the triple cap has a bit of a color difference. The cigar has a strong smell, its manure all over.


I used my Xikar butterfly cutter and decapped the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a mild raisin flavor with some spice on my lips. The trusted vintage Ronson took care of the lighting. I taste a spicy coffee and earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. After a centimeter I still taste the sweetness but now with wood and spices. The sweetness reminds me a bit of marzipan. The cigar lacks the Connecticut Shade mustiness and that’s a plus in my book, it’s quite spicy and sweet. Halfway the spices tone down, the sweetness remains with wood. A mild pepper shows up too. The flavor slowly changes to a vanilla sweetness on wood with a bit of lime and pepper.


The draw is great, the smoke is medium on volume and thickness. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is pretty straight. This is a balanced, medium bodied cigar, medium full flavored. The smoke time is ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yea, this gets my seal of approval and made a very small list of Connecticut Shade cigars that I enjoy.

Score: 92
number92

Categories: 92, Cornelius & Anthony, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

flag peru
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

Cigar of the month December

The final month of 2017 so the final ‘cigar of the month’, tomorrow I’ll be posting my top 25 but for now I focus on what December 2017 brought me.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generacion V with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generacion V Figurado (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) Viking Nordic Warrior Churchill (Dominican Republic) 93 points
3) C.A.O. Amazon Basin Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Cornelius & Anthony Señor Esugars (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Bespoke Tradicional Cottontail (Dominican Republic) 91 points
6) Punch Platino Double Corona (Cuba) 90 points
7) Xiphos Habano Lonsdale (Costa Rica) 90 points
8) Colon Lancero (Panama) 89 points
9) C.A.O. Angry Santa Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
10) Manowar Virtue Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
11) C.A.O. Evil Snowman (Nicaragua) 87 points

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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
number92

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

Cigar of the month September

It’s the end of the month, so it’s time to publish my list. What’s the best cigar I rated this month and what’s the worst?

The cigar with the highest rate in September  is:

My Father Commemorate 911 Rosado Habano

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) My Father Commemorate 911 Robusto (Nicaragua) 94 points
2) Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Torpedo (Honduras) 93 points
3) La Flor Dominicana Airbender Lancero (Dominican Republic) 92 points
4) Rocky Patel Royale Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
5) Undercrown Shade Flying Pig (Nicaragua) 91 points
6) Cornelius & Anthony Venganza Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) Arturo Fuente Opus X BBMF (Dominican Republic) 90 points
8) H. Upmann Mag 46 (Cuba) 89 points
9) Bunch Toro (Nicaragua) 88 points
10) Vega Fina Summum 2013 Toro (Dominican Republic) 87 points
11) Bunch Robusto (Nicaragua) 84 points
12) Amero Short Robusto (Dominican Republic) 82 points
13) Bunch Short Robusto (Nicaragua) 82 points

 

 

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Cornelius & Anthony Venganza Robusto

Imagine, you’re fifth generation in a certain industry, you and your ancestors have done really well and your company is making good money but for the last two decades health organizations and lobbyists have been bashing your industry, legislation has become heavier and heavier over the years, the numbers of consumers are on the decline worldwide what would you do with possibly industry ending legislation in the future? Keep on going the path you’re on now and possibly see the company vanish in two or three generations or expand into a growing segment of the industry, a segment that has less of a stigma and less legislation? That was the question Steven Bailey from S&B Brands was facing, his family has been farming tobacco for roll your own tobacco and cigarettes for 150 years but with current and pending legislation that is now becoming dangerous ground to depend on. So he made the choice to enter the premium hand made cigar industry as well with a new brand called Cornelius & Anthony, a tribute to the first Bailey to grow tobacco, Cornelius Bailey and Anthony is Steven’s second name.


The brand came out with four lines, the Cornelius, which I was the first review I posted this year, the Daddy Mac (will make you jump jump) named after his father Mac, who everybody in the company calls Daddy Mac, the Meridian and the Venganza. The first one is produced in Miami at the famous El Titan de Bronze factory on SW 8th street, ala Calle Ocho in the Cuban district Calle Ocho in Miami, the other three lines are made in Eric Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. I consider myself a lucky man that I’ve been to both factories, I spend quite a few hours at El Titan de Bronze and have sat on the balcony at La Zona, overseeing Esteli, with a great cigar, good coffee and the entertaining company of Hector Alfonso.


This 5×50 Robusto, made with Nicaraguan filler and binder wrapped into an Ecuadorian wrapper, was a gift from Steven, Courtney Smith and Todd Vance when I met them at Intertabac 2016. I knew Courtney from her stint with La Palina and we talked about cigars and she gave me a handful of the Venganza, Daddy Mac and Cornelius to try. When I take the cigar out of the cellophane I feel a smooth wrapper, which is medium dark with a nice oily shine to it. The cigar feels well packed but at the top, where the beautiful triple cap ends, I feels a soft spot all around the head of the cigar. The ring is beautiful, very detailed with gold, white and black on an olive green background and a secondary ring in red with gold with the venganza name on it. The cigar has an aroma that comes close to the dry food we fed the sheep when I was a kid. Not that I was a farmer, we had a farm field behind our house and the farmer that owned that land had sheep and cows, in the spring when the sheep had lambs he gave us a 100lbs bag of dry food and asked to give that to the sheep every evening so he wouldn’t have to come by every day and me and my sister loved feeding those fluffy friendly walking bundles of wool.


I punched the cigar and found a very easy cold draw with a mild bitter cocoa and tea flavor. I taste a mild bitter wood with coffee and earthy notes. I also taste some chocolate. Slowly I start to taste a growing pepper too and a little sweetness. After a third I taste nuts with pepper, very nice. The pepper grows stronger.


The draw is too loose, so loose that it will effect the rating in a negative way but only with half a point as the draw gets better along the way. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is a little off but I didn’t have to correct the burn. The pepper and salt ash is firm. This is a full bodied, full flavored cigar. The cigar is well balanced and has depth. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes! They will be available in Germany.

Score: 91
91

Categories: 91, 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

 

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601 La Bomba Napalm

This is an addition to the 601 series that every cigar aficionado knows or should know. The brand has a bit of a history, first owned by Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega at EO Brands and made at My Father cigars, then made by Rocky Patel when he distributed EO Brands and when EO Brands fell apart, Espinosa got the brand and now makes the cigars at his own La Zona factory downtown Esteli. And he created this new La Bomba line.


Now I was trying to find some information on the blend and I read about Ecuadorean wrappers, Connecticut Broadleaf, Nicaraguan Habano, so I’m confused, some websites even say it’s a Nicaraguan puro and the Espinosa website is ‘coming soon’ at the time of writing this review. All I can tell is that I bought it at one of the Smoke Inn locations back in 2014, after I returned from Nicaragua and spend a week in Florida before I flew back home.


The dark wrapper is dry and leathery, but what stands out is the long pig tail, that looks like a flint that is on a stick of dynamite, kind of like the firecrackers that the Two Guys Smoke Shop has made as a yearly limited edition by different factories. The wrapper is flawless, The construction feels good and the long flint makes the cigar quite unique. The ring is bright yellow with a 601 print of which the 0 is a bomb, a white banner saying la bomba, the brightness of the yellow is great. The aroma is quite strong and smells like barnyard with manure.


I cut the cigar because of the flint on the cap. The cold draw is a bit easy and has a well fermented tobacco taste with a spicy undertone. I lit the cigar with a single torch. I taste coffee, full and strong. After a quarter of an inch I taste wood and pepper. After a third I taste cedar, pepper and cinnamon, all strong and bold. Halfway the pepper toned down a little and I taste wood with a strange but tasty carrot flavor. The final third starts very peppery again.


The draw is loose, too loose for my liking. That makes the smoke a little thin. After a few puffs the draw and smoke get much better. The frayed ash is almost white. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is one of the strongest cigars I have smoked in a long time and the flavors are equally strong and bold. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? In the future I’ll be singing La Bomba every time I hear Ritchie Valens or Los Lobos. Great cigar.

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 601, 94, La Zona, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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