Posts Tagged With: limited edition

VegaFina Sumum 2013

VegaFina, a brand owned by Altadis and made on the Dominican Republic at Casa de Garcia. Now I did smoke a few of the regular VegaFina cigars and was totally unimpressed by those mild and boring Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars that had nothing to offer for me so when someone handed me this 6×55 Sumum 2013 limited edition it ended up in my humidor as I steered away from it just because of the brand name. But now that I’m smoking from my humidor, assorted box by assorted box, for review purposes I ended up with this VegaFina Sumum 2013 as one of the last cigars from the box I wanted to be empty. So here it goes.


While googling the cigar for some information I read something that sparked my interest, the wrapper of the cigar is Cameroon and that is probably my favorite wrapper on the market. I just love the spiciness of it. The binder comes from Nicaragua and the filler is from both Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. Only 20.000 of these cigars were made, 2000 boxes of 10 cigars, so on hindsight it was a very nice gift that I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. I’m sorry for that.


The cigar has a medium brown wrapper with very fine tooth and a few veins. Like all Cameroon wrappers it is quite thin. The construction feels good but the head isn’t perfectly round and the cap is a bit sloppy. The aroma is quite strong and all I can say is: manure. The cigar has two rings and they don’t match, the main ring is silver gray with a black lane and gray letters on the side. The front has a black circle with VegaFina logo in silver. The second rind has the same gray outlines with a black line added but the rest of the ring is a dark orange with black letters and doesn’t fit the main ring. The print quality is high though.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is fine without a real flavor. After lighting I taste coffee with some pepper and sugar. After half an inch I taste a nice mild nutty flavor with spices and a faint vanilla. After an inch I taste the herbal spice that the Cameroon wrapper is known for with some wood. Halfway it’s cedar with a lot of pepper. The final third starts with nuts and pepper.


The draw is is great. The ash is amazing, light colored and very dense, also firm. The smoke is medium thick, could be thicker. The draw is fantastic. This cigar is mild to medium bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, even a Cameroon wrapper can save a VegaFina.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, Casa de Garcia, Dominican cigars, VegaFina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Father 9/11 Ecuador Rosado Habano Robusto

As we all know, on september 11th 2001 the western world got shocked by an attack on our freedom by terrorists. The World Trade Centre in New York City was targeted by two airplanes and in the chaos 3000 people lost their life, including 343 brave fire fighters who came to the rescue. 10 years later My Father Cigars and Casa de Montecristo teamed up to commemorate their brave offer with a limited edition box, 343 made, with 9 Ecuadorean Rosado Habano and 11 Nicaraguan Habano Oscar wrapped cigars and all the proceedings from this box went to charity. I was lucky enough to buy a box of a fellow aficionado in need of some cash a few months later. I had smoked a few but never reviewed one, and there isn’t a more appropriate day than today.


The box, white with a custom logo that looks like a fire fighters batch with the twin towers on the shield says “we will never forget” both on the top as on the front of the box and it is hand numbered. My box in box 233 of 343. inside there is a piece of paper with the following text: ‘In tribute of the fallen heroes o 9/11 and in the spirit of remembrance, honor and hope My Father Cigar Company and Casa de Montecristo join to comemorate the 10th anniversary of the 343 fallen firefighters of 9/11. Presenting our special limited production blend of My Father Cigars with 9 Ecuadorian Habano Rosado and 11 Nicaraguan Habano Oscar in each box. 343 boxes are produced to honor the 343 fallen firefighter heroes’.


The cigars are naked, and with that I mean that except for cellophane, they have no rings. Now usually I give points for rings too, that is impossible now so instead I gave points for the box and the whole thought behind this limited edition and just because of that I have given it the full 50 points. The cigars can only be kept apart by the color of the wrapper, and thats only a slight color difference. The wrapper is quite dark with a little tooth, a long thin vein and some oil, it looks beautiful but a ring would have finished it. The construction is immaculate, the triple cap is flawless and the cigar has a strong barnyard aroma, even after 6 years I still smell some ammonia.


I punched the cigar and when I try the cold draw, which is flawless, I taste a very spicy, peppery and acidic flavor. The first flavors I taste after I lit the cigar with my soft flame are dark roast black coffee with some toast. Quickly some sugar appears with spices. After an inch the flavors have changed to coffee, nutmeg, pepper, a hint of cocoa and some citrus. Then all of a sudden the flavors change to toast, pepper and chocolate with a citrus aftertaste. And after that I taste nuts with pepper. After two thirds the pepper becomes the main flavor.


The draw is great, quite flawless. The ash is rough, silver gray in color with black smears but it’s firm. The burn is a little crooked. The smoke is quite thick and plenty in amount. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish! I hope My Father releases this blend as a new regular line.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, My Father, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Torpedo (2012)

Because it’s George Sosa’s birthday today I’m publishing an Alec Bradley review.

In 2011 Alec Bradley released a limited edition cigar that was pretty rare, with only 1000 boxes of 10 Toro’s, 100 boxes of 10 Torpedo and 11 boxes with 10 Toro, 10 Torpedo and 10 Perfecto for charity events. Now the 10 and 11 theme might look confusing but the 10 makes sense because 10 different tobacco’s were used to blend this cigar and the 1111 boxes make sense because the cigar got released on 11/11/11. I think I smoked one or two of the cigars back in the day, but I can’t remember for sure.  But I do have some of the later years, and the oldest one I have is the torpedo that was released the next year.


The blend was changed a little bit to a Honduran wrapper, Honduran binder and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua but still 10 different tobaccos used. For the shape Alec Bradley went with a torpedo and the production was doubled from 1000 boxes of 10 to 2000 boxes of 10. The MSRP got raised to by $2.50 to $16.50. For Alec Bradley this cigar is what the Opus X is to Fuente, the Family Reserve is to Padron, the Cohiba is to Habanos and the Melanio is to Oliva, their masterpiece. Not I’m not comparing the cigar to those other brands, it’s just to reference how big of a deal this cigar is to Alec Bradley.


The wrapper, as far as I can see it because of the huge ring, is dark, oily, shiny and smooth. The ring is huge but also very detailed, its a beige color with black details and then a huge white label with a lot of information like the roll date, the release date, the signature of the roller team, the quality control supervisor, how many cigars were produced that week and how many boxes were released in total (2000 as I said before). It’s very nice that the rollers are included on the ring and get credit for their skills. The construction feels flawless and the tip of the cigar is beautiful and sharp. The aroma is stronger than I expected and reminds me of cacao, hay and a little bit of a barnyard too.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar xi2 cutter. The cold draw is perfect and I taste dry tobacco, raisin and pepper. I taste coffee with lime and pepper right after lighting it with my vintage Ronson. After a few puffs I also taste nutshell, chocolate and cedar, complicated straight from the start. After a quarter of an inch i taste cedar, oak and pepper, all the other flavors have disappeared. After an inch some chocolate shows up too. Slowly the chocolate grows in strength and a toasted flavor shows up too, with some lemon in the aftertaste.


The smoke is thick, full and white. The draw is great. The ash is salt & pepper colored but coarse. The burn is slow but I had to touch it up a few times. This cigar is medium bodied, medium full flavored, pretty  complex and very well balanced. The final third starts with hazelnut and walnut with caramel, a little salt and pepper. The nuts and pepper get stronger. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? For a special occasion. I can’t justify the price, there are cigars that give me the same level of enjoyment for less.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oliva Master Blend 3 Torpedo

After the 2003 release of the Oliva Master Blend 1, the 2005 release of the Master Blend 2 Oliva released a third Master Blend, the Master Blend 3 in 2006. The company did not disclose how many cigars were released but next to the box releases in the robusto, torpedo and Churchill sizes they also released a sampler with those three vitolas and a 5×54 double robusto.


The cigars aren’t tattooed as explained in the Master Blend 2 review which I published yesterday. And in the last 11 years there has been no follow up to the Master Blend series, so we are still waiting for the Master Blend 4. The Master Blend series consisted of 3 vitolas, I smoked the Churchill for the Master Blend 1  review, the robusto for the Master Blend 2 review so lets go for the torpedo for this Master Blend 3 review, then I covered all vitolas and all releases


The sharp head of the cigar is what I notice first, combined with the box pressed with rounded corners it makes the cigar quite unique in shape. The ring is almost identical to the Master Blend 1 and 2, except for a little difference in color and a 3 of course. There is no mention of the number of released cigars though and the tattoo is missing. The construction feels good and the dark wrapper feels a leathery. The cigar has a strong aroma, it smells like walking through the woods early morning after a rainfall, wood, plants and animal droppings.


I cut the cigar. The perfect cold draw is spicy and peppery with sultanas. After lighting it with a soft flame I taste a nice smooth mixture of coffee, honey, cedar, cumin and lime. After an inch I taste cedar, nutmeg, pepper and lime. Halfway the pepper gets stronger with cedar. The final third starts with wood, a little pepper and a little lemon. Near the end I taste coffee again.


The draw is fine and the smoke is medium plus thick, medium plus in volume and beautifully white. The ash is dense and white but not too firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good cigar but I like the 1 and 2 better.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jas Sum Kral Da Cebak/Seljak

For those of you that read my reviews regularly it is not a shocking confession if I say that I love Jas Sum Kral. The Red Knight, Maduro, Zlatno Sonce and Crna Nok all got 90+ ratings and today it’s time for another JSK  cigar, the limited edition Da Cebak or Seljak as the USA spelling is. This cigar is different than the others, not only by blend, size and packaging but also by factory. Unlike the Red Night, Maduro, Zlatno Sonce, Crna Nok and the shaggy foots that sometimes pop up, which I haven’t had the chance to get my hands on for a review, this Da Cebak isn’t made at Tabacalera NOA in Esteli but somewhere else, at a factory that brand owner Riste Riatevski wouldn’t disclose to me.

 


As I said above, the size is different than any other Jas Sum Kral as this is an A sized cigar. For Jas Sum Kral that means 9 1/4 inch long and a ring gauge of 48. I like those sizes. I know, I said many times that I love the lancero, corona and lonsdale like classic sizes and this cigar is thicker than all those vitolas but the length is also bigger and therefore the vitola looks so majestic, the length vs the thickness is perfect, just like with the lonsdale and lancero. To me an A sized cigar is a lancero on steriods. The packaging is also sweet, a coffin of two cigars, nothing new as Drew Estate does that too but the laquered box with nothing than de name in a beautiful font and the size on one side is simple yet pretty. And the cedar shavings inside the box, to help the cigars blend with the cedar smell during aging, is a nice touch.

 


I open the packaging and take one of the cigars out and the first thing I notice is that Riste doesn’t stray away from the pig tails and the closed foot even though these are made in a different factory. The closed foot is a bit different though, much more pressed than the ones from Tabacalera NOA. Another difference is the ring, not the beautiful Jas Sum Kral ring designed by Nuzli Hakiim but more of a home made ring combined of some classic Macedonian stereotype pictures printed on a simple laserjet in Riste’s basement. Now for this extremely limited run for some insiders, that was only sold on the Jas Sum Kral website that’s ok, if this was a more commercial release I wouldn’t go with this ring, and I bet Riste wouldn’t do that either. But I take the rest of the packaging into consideration too, so the cigar doesn’t lose too much on this part. The wrapper is mild oily, only has two minor veins and on a cigar this long that’s good. The construction feels good. The smell is a little bit sweet, vanilla like but it could be that the aroma is mild and that the vanilla scented soap I used an hour ago is overpowering the cigar.

 


I cut the cigar and the cold draw is tight but I think that’s because of the tightly closed door. The flavor is quite spicy and peppery. Lighting the cigar is easy with my soft flame and my conclusion that the tight cold draw was caused by the closed foot was right. I taste leather, coffee and an earthy flavor, very Cubanesque but a little stronger. After half an inch it’s mainly leather with a tiny hint of dark chocolate. Little over an inch it’s still mainly leather but now with a little lime freshness and some dark chocolate. A little later I also taste a little vanilla too. Slowly a little pepper shows up too. After a third it’s leather with vanilla and a little pepper, this reminds me of the Cubans I smoked when I just started smoking and the Cuban quality was much higher than nowadays. The vanilla gains some strength and it’s a perfect match to the dry leather. Halfway the sweetness and the vanilla flavors are stronger than the leather and it reminds me of puffed rice candy I had as a kid, very tasty. A little later I also taste a little nuts and the pepper returns too, black pepper. After two thirds I taste vanilla cake with cedar, a little nuts and pepper. The cigar gets stronger, spicier but the vanilla still makes it a very easy smokable cigar. Near the end I taste a minty aftertaste too.

 


The smoke is medium thick at the start and gets thicker along the way. The draw is amazing, especially for a cigar this long. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is razor sharp from start to finish. The cigar is very subtle and complex. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is two hours and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish! I hope Riste does another batch of these and possibly in a smaller size so it doesn’t take a special occasion and a lot of time to smoke it.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Undisclosed | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ilja VIII

For the last few months I’ve been posting my reviews every wednesday, sunday and 15h of the month plus on april 17, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my blog. So today shouldn’t be a review day but I decided to review a special cigar, the Ilja VIII. Now those of you that don’t know the story behind the Ilja cigars, it is a sad story. Ilja van Horssen was a third generation tobacco wholesaler, his grandfather started a wholesale company in dry cigars and roll your own tobacco, his father build the company further up and Ilja and his younger brother Sasja started working for the Van Horssen BV company too. About 20 years ago they saw the future of the cigars in The Netherlands and decided to start a new source of income for the company: premium longfiller cigars from the Caribbean. So they started ‘Longfiller Company’ under the J. van Horssen BV umbrella. A few years later Ilja left the company to start his own retail store, Cuesta Rey, in The Hague and also bought the famous Dutch Brand G. de Graaff and the shop with the same name. Ilja created a huge reputation for himself because he was able to find many hard to get cigars that even his brother Sasja, as the official distributer for those brands like Fuente and Padron, couldn’t even get his hands on. Sounds like a success story right? Here’s the downer, Ilja got sick and died way too young at age 36 on july 14 2006, leaving two young children and his wife behind. His widow ran the shop for a number of years before she turned into the first La Casa del Habano in The Netherlands, the LCDH The Hague.


To commemorate his brother Sasja decided to release a hard to find cigar every year, 36 boxes as Ilja only made it till 36, and the proceedings would go to charity. After a few years the concept changed a little, the cigars are now released on a special event, invitation only and you can only buy one of the boxes if you’re invited to that event by Sasja personally, the proceedings still go to charity though, to Pronica. Now I’m not part of the family, but I’ve worked close with the family for some years and was even involved with some of the Ilja cigars, like the Ilja VI (Liga Privada A), this Ilja VIII and the Ilja IV. If you’re afraid that I’m bias because of this, don’t worry, I wasn’t involved in the blending process, I only asked the manufacturers what they could do for the Ilja cigar and picked sizes. When I was in Nicaragua early 2014 I had a meeting with Rosa Vilchez, our contact within My Father Cigars, and I asked her if My Father Cigars could do something for the next Ilja. She called Jaime, who was in Miami at the time and immediately they agreed, they were actually honored to be asked and came up with a new blend and in an 9 1/4×48 A size like I requested. The cigars are all bunched and rolled by Jaime and his father Don Pepin self. I wanted to review this cigar for a while and what date is more suitable to post than the 14th of july, the day Ilja moved on. If you want a full list on the Ilja releases, check out Halfwheel (and add a Joya de Nicaragua twist on the cuatro cinco blend to the list as Ilja IV).


The cigar has a dark chocolate color with beautiful small veins and a triple cap, just the looks of the wrapper makes my saliva work. The wrapper feels leathery and the cigar has a strong barnyard aroma with a little acidity and ammonia even though it’s 2 years old. The construction feels good and the band, what can I say? The ring is so personal for the family, the picture of Ilja, the quality of the printing is great, and I mean, I know the family so well, I know how much this ring means to them, how hard it was for Sasja to do see the rings roll of the press the first time and color proof it, I can only give it the full amount of points available in my rating system. The cold draw is great and I taste raisin in the front of my mouth and spices in the back of my throat.


The first flavor I get is a nice sweetened coffee and I smell a nice pepper without breaking out in a sneeze. I also taste some honey and some vanilla. After a centimeter I taste chocolate, dark chocolate like I’m sucking on a small piece and the flavor is sticking to the top of my throat. After an inch I still taste the chocolate but now with cedar and a little bit of chili. Slowly the flavors change to a charred woody barbecue flavor with a hint of lime but still with a little bit of chocolate although is fading away.

After a third the chocolate is back, a bit sweeter this time and with some spicy toast on the back. The overall feeling of the flavors is meaty. There is also still a lime flavor, slowly that acidity grows a little bit. The flavors are now creamy, like ice cream with a hint of vanilla and some chocolate. The aftertaste is still a bit barbecue like. The spicy barbecue flavor is the main flavor after I reach the halfway point but I taste a nice honey and chocolate flavor every time i take a sip of water and over the duration of this cigar I almost drank a liter of water. After two thirds I get a lot more pepper with a smoky flavor soon to be accompanied by a raspberry vinegar. I’m still having that tasting chocolate after water experience. Near the end i also taste spices and herbs with an oaky aftertaste. The last few puffs give me salted nuts, macadamia and hazelnut with a nice dose of pepper.


The draw is great, the smoke is cool due to the length of the cigar. The smoke starts out relatively thin, but beautifully blue white and decent amount. The smoke slowly gets thicker. The ash is light colored and firm. The burn is straight as a line. This cigar is full bodied and full flavored. It’s a long smoke but it never gets boring. The cigar lasted me 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Unfortunately that’s no longer possible but I know Sasja has plans to release this blend in a robusto and gordo size in the near future.

Score: 94

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Categories: 94, My Father, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva

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

Tatuaje Thursday – Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva

In 2003 Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars released a cigar with the name Cojonu, which is slang for ‘balsy’ according to my friends of Halfwheel, and that fits the whole Tatuaje brand if you ask me. Now because the cigar had a year on it you could suspect it to be a yearly limited but no, Johnson decided to make a regular release with a new edition every three years, with the Tatuaje Cojonu 2006, Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 and also a regular production under the name Gran Cojonu in big ring gauge and no bands. Now for the 2012 Cojonu Johnson did something special, he not only released the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 with the regular Ecuadorean Habano wrapper but also a box in the shape of a book with Cojonu 2012 with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and a Sumatra wrapper aka Capa Especial. And its all in the detail, a book contains 24 cigars, 12 Tatuaje Cojonu Broadleaf and 12 Tatuaje Cojonu Capa Especial, to keep the ’12’ theme going, even the cover of the book says it “The Cojonu two 12’s”.


Sadly there was no Tatuaje Cojonu 2015 edition, next time I see Pete I’ll ask why and if there will be a 2018 Cojonu. In retrospect, of all the times Pete and I talked we never spoke about any of the Cojonu cigars as I can recall. And I never heard about them online either, so that might be the answer to the question why there wasn’t a Cojonu 2015. Back to the cigar, which is also called Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva. It has a 6 1/2×50 size and is made with Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The wrapper is dark, it feels like velvet and has a little spark of minerals, the veins are hardly noticeable and it gives the cigar a great appearance. The construction, which is slightly box pressed, feels good and the triple cap is very well made. The rings, well, it has the standard brown Tatuaje ring with the flor de lis and white, swirly lettering on thin paper and even though its not fancy, I like the simplicity of the Tatuaje rings. Unfortunately it doesn’t match with the second band which is shiny and black with golden outlines and a straight font saying Cojonu 2012. I wouldn’t have used shiny paper, golden print and a straight font because it doesn’t match the simple style of the regular ring. Now the aroma of the cigar isn’t very strong and much to my surprise a little minty.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is fine and spicy, woody and peppery. Once I lit the cigar with my soft flame lighter I taste coffee with pepper. After three puffs I also taste some sweetness. A centimeter later I taste toasty wood with spices, some pepper and a little bit of sugar. Slowly the sweetness disappears, it’s all toasted wood with pepper and herbs.


After a third I still taste wood, with a toasty touch but also some chocolate. There are also some spices and herbs. Halfway it’s a little burned toast but not in an unpleasant way with pepper, citrus and a little bit of mint. There is still a little hint of cocoa, mildly sweet. Slowly the pepper and spices grow on the tip of my tongue.


The smoke is quite thick and a nice amount of it. The draw is good, not perfect but very good. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is straight and slow. This is definitely a balsy blend, full bodied and full flavored. There is enough evolution and the balance is good. The smoke time is 2 hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I still have a few and I enjoy other Tatuaje cigars better, but it’s still a very good cigar.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, My Father Cigars, Nicaraguan cigars, Tatuaje | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve

A few months ago I invited some friends over for a few cigars and one of them had actually never been to my new home, with man cave & walk in humidor, he had been to my previous apartment though. He is an avid Cuban smoker, but not snobbish about it and always willing to try non Cuban cigars. As a thank you for the invite he brought me a Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve. He knows that I’m not the biggest Cuban fan to say the least and he wanted to give me something he knew I would never buy for myself. And he was right. Tonight I’m going to review that 5×55 cigar, which is thick for a Cuban and thick for me.


The Grand Reserve series was first seen in 2009 and Habanos claims that they select special tobacco for the Grand Reserve series and that the tobacco ages a minimum of 5 years before being rolled. Now that might impress Cuban smokers, it doesn’t impress me nor does it impress anybody with knowledge about non Cubans as 5 years isn’t very long. The tobacco for this Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve is from the 2009 crop and was released in 2015. 5000 boxes of 15 cigars were released worldwide, so they are pretty rare.


The cigar has a brown reddish glow and a few veins. The construction feels good and the head of the cigar is very flat. The rings, Habanos have specific rings for special releases and use the same rings on whatever brand the release is and often those rings don’t combine very well. This is not the case with the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Grand Reserve, the three rings match. On top there is the classic red Romeo y Julieta ring with the white line, white letters and golden decorations, the second ring is the “old Romeo style” ring that is always used on the wide churchill as a nod to the original rings, golden with black letters and then there is what looks like a third ring but is actually still the second ring, the Grand Reserve ring, that is black with golden lining and golden lettering Habana Cuba and the Grand Reserve logo. The aroma is classic Cuban, barnyard with a hint of ammonia, mild to medium strong.


Due to the size I decided to punch instead of cut. Recently I prefer to punch anyway. The cold draw is tight, I might have to cut after all or worse, use my draw poker. I taste a mild bitter taste that I can’t describe, but it’s not unpleasant. The usual vintage Ronson is used to light the cigar. The first taste is bitterness on the tip of my tongue. The bitterness quickly fades and changes to some chocolate with some herbs. After a centimeter I taste some wood with a little bit of herbs. The chocolate is gone. After a third I taste a very mild pepper on the background. The cigar has a wood undertone but all the flavors are medium at max. After two thirds i taste some nice dark chocolate which i like. Slowly I discover some nuts too with some licorice.


The draw is on the tight side and that causes the smoke to be medium thick at most and not too big in volume. The burn is crooked and the ash is silver gray and firm. The cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? That’s impossible within my budget, the cigars were priced crazy high when they were released and that price only has gone up. And even then, this cigar isn’t made for my palate. With a better draw the score would have been 2 points higher though.

Score: 84

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Categories: 84, Cuban cigars, Romeo y Julieta (Habanos), Romeo y Julieta Factory | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Undercrown Manifesto

Now here’s a cigar that needs a little bit of an introduction, well, not the cigar itself but how I got it and where I smoked it. The cigar itself is just a Undercrown in an incredible vitola, 11 inch long with a ring gauge of 40, so sort of a double lancero, but it’s a unique size and only available at events so rare. And even though I worked for the Dutch Drew Estate distributer before Agio took over and that I spend a lot of hours with JD in the car, visited his home, the Drew Estate offices in Miami and the factory in Esteli several times I never was able to get my hands on this cigar. Not that i’m complaining though as Jonathan and the other guys from DE have always been very generous with me.


So, as I said, I worked for a cigar distributor and one day I heard about a convenience shop, a franchiser part of a group of shops called Primera in the pittoresk town of Hoorn was thinking about a walk-in humidor so I dropped by. Owner Bjorn didn’t know a lot back then but had great plans and a few months later he had build a fantastic walk-in humidor in his shop, he visited Nicaragua and Cuba too and is now a knowledgeable and passionate tobacconist. Together we picked a nice assortment for his shop and promised to be easy with exchanging cigars if they wouldn’t sell as I wanted him to succeed. Well, he did, he turned an empty space on the attic into a smoke lounge but that happened after I lost the job. Last week someone posted a picture of the Manifesto in the Balmoral/Drew Estate group on Facebook and I replied that I had never smoked that cigar. Two days later Bjorn reached out to me, said he had a coffin of two Manifestos and said “come see my new lounge and we will both smoke the manifesto”, an offer I couldn’t refuse for four reasons: the manifesto, my curiosity about his smoke lounge, it’s nice to smoke a cigar with people that are passionate about tobacco and Bjorn is a nice guy. So here I am, at the lounge of Primera Grooteman in Hoorn, about to light and review the Undercrown Manifesto.


The cigars come in a pair in a coffin and when you open it you see two cigars completely wrapped in a blue paper. The cigar is long and thin, the binder has a lot of veins and it shows under the wrapper. The wrapper is mild oily with a reddish glow. The construction feelers great and I love pig tails. The blue and golden ring is pretty with the lion on top of an upside down crown, the drew estate logo on the side and the Undercrown name at the back. The aroma reminds me of a barnyard and is medium strong.


Due to the thin size I had to cut the cigar. I used my Joya de Nicaragua branded xikar cutter. The cold draw is flawless and I taste raisin with a spicy and peppery aftertaste. I lit the cigar with a classic soft flame, this long and thin cigar deserves some class over a jet flame. I taste a sweet yet spicy coffee flavor, very tasty. After half an inch I taste a strong mix of cedar, nutmeg and walnuts with a nice hint of pepper. The walnuts grow stronger with some spices with a little vanilla. I love the cool smoke because of the length of the cigar. After a third the cigar gets a little stronger. Halfway I taste some pepper, not overpowering though, with green herbs, spices and a faint mint. The pepper slowly grows in strength. Near the end it’s pepper and cedar with pepper as the main flavor. Right before I put the cigar away the pepper disappears and I taste a nice wood with cinnamon flavor.


The draw is amazing, especially when you consider the difficult vitola. This shows excellent skills of the torcedor. The smoke is classic Drew Estate, that means there is a lot of thick smoke, only the color isn’t perfectly white but I’m not bothered. The light colored ash is pretty but not too firm. The burn is fantastic. This is a medium full bodied and full flavored cigar. The evolution and complexity it great. The smoke time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish, the vitola makes this cigar more subtle and complex than the regular Undercrown without losing strength or flavor. Thank you Bjorn for sharing this cigar with me!

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Nicaraguan cigars, Undercrown | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Balmoral Anejo XO FT Lancero

From 2010 till 2015, when the Dutch FDA closed us down, I was one of the people behind the Dutch Big Smoke. One day, in the early summer of 2012, I went to the zoo with my nephew and my phone rings, unknown number, I pick up and it was the marketing manager of Royal Agio telling me that they wanted to introduce a new Balmoral cigar, the Balmoral Anejo 18, and asked me of we could fit them in at the Big Smoke mid september. Now Balmoral is mainly known for their shortfillers that, in The Netherlands, are sold in convenience stores, gas stations etc and their line of longfillers are dated and way under the radar of the cigar geeks like me, the only Balmoral I liked at the moment was the Balmoral Dominican Selection, a short filler dry cigar with Dominican tobacco and its a very good cigar for a short filler. So my response was blunt “why do you think we want a gas station cigar on the Big Smoke?”. Boy, was I wrong there!


A few weeks later Jaco de Kramer, who now owns Jacks’ Cigar bar in Rotterdam, tells me that he was at a barbecue and one of the Wintermans (owners of Agio) was there and he smoked that unreleased cigar, according to him it was great. I decided to call the Agio Marketing manager and told him to meet me, my employer, my Big Smoke co-organizer and Ed van Dalen, a well known cigar retailer, in the Van Dalen Lounge in Rotterdam the next Friday with some samples so we could try them and make up our minds. So that Friday he showed up, we all cut the cigar, lit it and after 3 puffs I look at the Agio guy and go “ok, how do you want to proceed from here?”, that cigar was great, and like I was so wrong to shut him down on that first phone call. Now the Anejo 18 had an 18 year old wrapper, so after 2 years of production they ran out of it and the follow up was the Balmoral Anejo XO, which came pretty close to the Anejo 18. I jumped for joy when I heard Agio would do a limited run of my favorite vitola, a 7×40 lancero. First they were released in the States but then 750 cigars (75 boxes of 10) came to The Netherlands. I managed to buy two at Primera Lelycentre, the shop of Ronald Riecker, a very passionated tobacco retailer in Lelystad.


I just love the size, not just because a Lancero has a beautiful wrapper to filler ratio, the wrapper gives most of the flavor, because of the low amount of filler the cigar gets more dynamic, its also an elegant cigar due to the length and the slenderness of the ring gauge. For the blend Agio used Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian filler, a Dominican Olor binder and a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper and as expected from Brazilian wrappers it is a bit rustic yet it also has a mild oily shine. A nice detail is the small pig tail. The construction feels good. The cigar has a deep, dark and relatively strong barnyard aroma, like walking into a stable with some cows but before they pissed all over the floor. The cigar has a double ring, a gray foot band with a white and gold line at the bottom and golden letters saying Anejo XO and in smaller letters Lancero FT. The normal band is white and gray with gray and golden letters. It says Balmoral on top in white and the B logo in gold, near the bottom it says Lancero FT in gray and underneath edicion 2016 limitada in white and god. The band is simple but tasteful, no coloring, its very clear what it is and I like it.


Because of the ring gauge and the pig tail I cut the cigar and this time I used a cutter from the Spanish company HF Barcelona. The cold draw is flawless. The flavor is mild spicy. After I lit the cigar with my Ronson lighter I taste a very pleasant full coffee flavor. After a few puffs I also taste some dark chocolate. Soon after I also taste pepper, it’s all balanced.

After in inch the coffee is gone and I taste spices, chocolate and some herbs. A third in I taste herbs, cedar and some nuts with a peppery aftertaste. Every few puffs I taste a faint chocolate too. Halfway there is a little citrus flavor too. When I review I don’t eat anything and I only drink water but I think this cigar would be spectacular with some dark chocolate. Slowly but surely the cigar gains strength and becomes more peppery. After two thirds pepper is the main flavor but every now and then I still taste the chocolates.


The draw is perfect, 100 out of 100 points. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is frayed, light gray with dark spots but it is firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is full bodied and full of strong full flavors yet well balanced and full of evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I’m afraid they are all sold out, I would by a box or two, or three, or four, or five if possible.

Score: 95

95

Categories: 95, Agio Caribbean Tobacco Company, Balmoral, Dominican cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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