Posts Tagged With: Noel Rojas

Cigar of the month August

August was a month of 12 published reviews, including one with the name I used as a nickname on forums like Club Stogie and Cigar Asylum when forums were still the place to be.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

La Preferida 452 with a 95 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) La Preferida 452 (Nicaragua) 95 points
2) Ave Maria Argentum (Nicaragua) 94 points
3) Guayacan Maduro Robusto (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Leon Jimenes Don Fernando (Dominican Republic) 92 points
5) Xiphos Habano Robusto (Costa Rica) 92 points
6) Undercrown Sun Grown Belicoso (Nicaragua) 91 points
7) E.L.V.I.S. Torpedo (Nicaragua) 91 points
8) El Titan de Bronze Gran Reserva Maduro Churchill (USA) 91 points
9) Casa Magna Domus Magnus Tiberus (Nicaragua) 90 points
10) Winston Churchill by Davidoff The Artist (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Ahuriba Light Corona (Aruba) 90 points
12) Swag Lancero (Dominican Republic) 88 points

 

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Categories: Cigar of the month, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guayacan Maduro Robusto

In 2013 Noel Rojas, blender and owner of Guayacan and of the Tabacalera New Order of the Ages factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, showcased his Guayacan Maduro at the IPCPR trade show but the cigar never got released due to inconsistency in the tobacco. A year later, July 2014, he showcased it again in a slightly different blend with Nicaraguan tobacco and a Mexican San Andres wrapper and that cigar did hit the market. The cigar were made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory, owned by Rojas back then before he moved on to his new factory after leaving the distribution deal with House of Emilio too. I met Noel in person in Esteli in May 2015 and his cigars are available on the Dutch market because of my involvement. I reviewed the Guayacan Habano earlier this year and I also reviewed some private labels made by Noel Rojas for others like the Kilo made for Barry Stein and Jas Sum Kral made for Riste Riatevski.


Before I got Noel a distribution deal in The Netherlands with my then (and now previous) employer Noel send me a few boxes of cigars as a sampler, most of which I handed out to my employer and some of our regular customers to get their impression but of course I kept a few for myself and in hindsight I should have kept more. The cigar that I’m smoking is a 5×50 robusto that comes wrapped in cellophane. Once I get the cigar out of the cellophane I see a beautiful almost very dark wrapper with a very fine tooth and my mouth starts to water as my brain thinks of a chocolate bar. There are no big veins visible. The construction feels good and the cigar has a pretty triple cap. The ring is also a piece of art, the edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The cigar has a mild sweet aroma mixed with wood, I don’t smell any ammonia.


I punched the cigar and find the cold draw to be great. I taste dry raisin with pepper. I lit the cigar with my Ronson varaflame. Instantly I taste coffee. It’s not a bitter coffee but a nice coffee with spices. Soon after chocolate joins the spiced coffee. The flavors are very dry, guess I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The flavors remind me of autumn.


After a third I taste wood, autumn leaves and a tiny bit of cocoa. The cigar still gives me a dry mouth. Halfway the cocoa changes into a flavor that reminds me of chocolate paste that you use on a slice of bread. There is also a little sweetness from the Maduro wrapper and warm spices. On the background I also taste some macadamia nuts. After two thirds the chocolate changes back to cocoa powder with the leaves and some spices. There is a nice pepper in the aftertaste without becoming to overpowering. At the final puffs I taste some nuts again with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, close to perfect. The smoke is medium thick and I would have liked to see thicker smoke and more of it. The burn is sharp and leaves a white ash. The ash is firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored with a decent amount of evolution and a good balance.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like it but I like the Habano better.

Score: 92

92

Categories: Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Soloman

Jas Sum Kral owner has his own two day cigar festival every year, Ristefari, and for the inaugural 2017 edition he decided to make a limited edition of his Red Knight cigar in a Salomon shape, called to soloman. Only 1000 of the cigars were made, 100 boxes of 10, and they were only for sale during Ristefari with a MSRP of $12. And I got two of them now, a gift from Riste.


When these 7×58 cigars were made, Riste still had his cigars made at Tabacalera NOA, owned by Noel Rojas. That partnership has sailed, Jas Sum Kral is now made in the small factory of Roniel Aragon, a previous employer of Noel Rojas who ventured out on his own. As for this vitola, Jas Sum Kral made it again but in a variation of the Zlatno Sonce blend for Ristefari 2018 and I reviewed the cigar last month.


I am not a fan of big ring gauges but in a shape like this I don’t oppose it. I mean, one of my favorite cigars is actually shaped like this. The wrapper is a tad darker than what I’m used to from Jas Sum Kral, it goes towards a dark chocolate color and it has a mild leathery look. The construction feels great, the shape is beautiful. The aroma is quite mild, woody and a bit soapy.


After cutting the cigar I taste a spicy peppery flavor with a perfect resistance. After lighting it’s pepper and coffee, earthy flavors. There is also a cane-sugar tasting sweetness. The sugar is getting stronger with cedar and pepper as support flavors. Secretly the cigar gains strength and I taste something that reminds me a bit of carrots. It’s not exactly carrot but it is similar. I tasted this a few times before in cigars, and I like it. The sweetness remains, the carrot disappears, it’s now a wooden flavor with some green leafy herbs, a little cinnamon and pepper. Little passed the midway point it’s oak with pepper and spicy green herbs, the sweetness is gone. The pepper grows and becomes dominant in the final third, it blows all other flavors away.


The draw is great, the ash is light in color, a little frayed and with clear rings. The burn is good. The smoke is medium thick, grayish and medium of volume. The smoke time is two hours and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That wouldn’t be possible.

Score: 95
number95

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Xiphos NR Maduro Robusto

So far I have reviewed three different Xiphos cigars, an American boutique brand, all those three cigars were all made in Costa Rica. But Xiphos offeres more than just Costa Rican cigars, there are two Nicaraguan cigars in their portfolio too, both made at Tabacalera Noa from master blender Noel Rojas. The Xiphos NR comes in a Habano and in a Maduro wrapper and both lines come in three sizes, a 5×52 robusto, a 6×52 toro and a 6×60 gordo.


Both lines share the filler, well aged Nicaraguan tobacco and the binder, which is Indonesian, but the wrapper is different. Either an Ecuadorian Habano or a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. I have both cigars but today I’ll be focussing on the maduro. I will review the Habano too at a later time though.


The wrapper is dark and has even darker smears and spots. I see one thick vein on the back, about an inch and a half long. While the rings on the Costa Rican made cigars are silver and blue, which is a very Greek color scheme, the Nicaraguan made cigars have a blue and silver ring with red lettering in the same Greek style as the Costa Rica ones. The secondary ring is black with red outlines and red lettering saying maduro in a classic Greek font. The cigar has a dark smell of charcoal and manure. The cigar is well shaped, triple capped with a nice quite flat head.


I sliced a thin cap off with a Xikar butterfly cutter. The cold draw is good and I taste pepper and sultanas. After lighting I taste a full coffee flavor with wood and nutmeg. After a few puffs I taste a chalky vanilla sweetness with leather and cumin. Soon some toast turns up too. After a third I start to taste some pepper too. Halfway I taste pepper and chocolate with a little vanilla and toast. In the final third I taste the toast again but with a strong pepper.


The draw is great, the white ash is dense and firm. The smoke is white and quite thick and plentiful. The burn is good. The cigar is smooth, it starts medium bodied but grows to become full bodied and full flavored. There’s plenty of evolution in this cigar too. The smoke time is an hour and a forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? If they were available in The Netherlands I would get a box. I even grabbed my nub tool to enjoy this cigar as long as possible.

Score: 93
number93

Categories: 93, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa, Xiphos | Tags: , , , , ,

Guayacan Habano Corona

Years ago, on one of my yearly vacations to Florida, I was invited to visit Nestor Miranda & Jason Wood, whom I met at several Intertabac trade shows. I dropped by the office and met Barry Stein, a former cigar blogger turned cigar industry professional (like me) as the multimedia guy for Miami Cigar & Co. and we developed a friendship. Barry left the company and decided to re-release his own cigar brand he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co. named Kilo. I read about this on Barry’s Facebook I think March or April of 2015 so I send Barry a message asking him who’s making it. Barry’s reply was “since I haven’t announced it yet, I won’t tell but its made in Esteli” to which I reply “That’s why I’m asking, I’ll be there soon and hopefully I can mooch some as they won’t be available in The Netherlands”. So after promising I wouldn’t disclose the factory before Barry did it himself he said it was Noel Rojas, whom I never heard of by that time but Barry praised him for his blending skills. Barry got me in touch with Noel and after a few calls and text messages we made an appointment in Esteli during my stay there where Noel handed me a bundle of Kilo and Barry asked me to send pictures of the cigars with rings as he had seen the rings and smoked the cigar but never seen them together. Call me a geek, but I think it’s cool to see the finalized product before the brand owner sees it. By the way, by the time you’re reading this: Barry is now working for 2 guys smoke shop and the cigar authority and has sold the Kilo name.


So I meet up with Noel, he shows me his factory Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa, which is now his old factory as he built a new one with his business partner called Tabacalera New Order of the Ages aka NOA, we go to dinner at Restaurant Cohifer in downtown Esteli and we talk about the possibilities for Noel’s brands in The Netherlands and Belgium. Ofcourse I was only an employee so I couldn’t say yes or no there and then, I had to consult with my employer and Noel said he would send us a bunch of samplers. A few weeks later a huge box shows up from the USA and inside I found a few boxes of cigars made by Noel, some Guayacan, some Sabor de Esteli and some test blends just for fun. I had a few to my employer, hand a few to friends and kept a few for myself. Everybody agreed, good cigars, value for money so to cut a long story short: Noel’s brands are now distributed in The Netherlands but unfortunately I don’t work for that employer anymore so I can’t get them at a discounted price. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the Guayacan Habano corona, a 6×42 long cigar made from a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder (’98 Aganorsa Corojo) and Nicaraguan fillers. I promise, later this year I will also review the Guayacan Maduro, Sabor de Esteli, Kilo, Jas Sum Kral and previously I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Maduro that are also made by Tabacalera Noa.


The cigar looks great, long and lean, with a wrapper that is colored like dark oak wood. The ring is colorful, printed on thick paper and not with a straight edge. The edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, which is one of the hardest things to print as I’ve been told by people from Vrijdag Printing in Eindhoven (NL), one of the premier cigar ring printers in the world, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The construction feels great and you can see that Noel learned the trade in his home country of Cuba, which he fled on a raft in 2007, because of the beautiful triple cap. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong, without the ammonia. Since it’s a smaller ring cigar I decided to cut instead of punch and the pre light draw aka cold draw is great. I taste some cedar and plenty of spice and pepper. I light the cigar with my soft flame and taste a medium strong coffee with a little spice and some pepper in the aftertaste. After two puffs the pepper gets strong but there’s also a bit of sweetness.


After a centimeter I taste some milky chocolate with pepper and a little caramel, it’s mild creamy. Slowly but surely the pepper is replaced with some oak and green spices. Every few puffs I taste the chocolate again. Right before the two third mark I taste some nutmeg too. The chili peppers make a comeback too. The oak is still the base flavor and the flavors are all well balanced. After two thirds there is also a little mixed nuts flavor with a tiny bit of salt. There is a strong peppery flavor on my lips for a while. The nutty flavor is hardly noticeable anymore, oak is back as the base. At the end I taste a mild mint flavor in the aftertaste.


The draw is just simply great, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is medium plus thick and with a decent amount. The ask is salt and pepper colored, it’s quite firm too. The burn is straight, no touch ups. This cigar is medium full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, they are available in the Netherlands now and once I’m out I’ll get some more.

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Toro

I knew Riste, the man behind Jas Sum Kral, from Facebook and when he released his first batch of the Jas Sum Kral Red Knight, just in a toro size back then, he send a few to Hans van de Witteboer, the owner of Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven with the instruction to give me one the next time I visited Hans’s shop. So my next visit as a salesman Hans gave me the cigar and it blew me away, what an amazing cigar. I talked to my boss about this, he didn’t like the story on the Jas Sum Kral website and wasn’t even close to being interested in importing and distributing the cigars. I did though, so once Riste decided to do some line extensions I calculated the fixed prices for The Netherlands based upon his export prices, pre-sold 40+ boxes in just 5 shops and went back to my employer who then quickly made a deal with Riste.


Now I won’t bother you with the story on the name of the cigar, how it was blended, as this cigar has had so much buzz on social media that everybody will probably know it and if not, google is your best friend. And all the social media buzz is well deserved considering all the ‘top 10/25’ lists of 2016 as Jas Sum Kral is mentioned in a lot of them which is quite remarkable for such a new and small brand, thats not being sold in a lot of shops yet, but if the FDA doesn’t screw the cigar industry up that will change, mark my words and it his slipstream other cigars rolled by Noel Rojas in his Tabacalera NOA in Esteli, like Ohana and Prendelo will follow. Now I don’t mention Rojas his own brands Rojas Reserva, Guayacan and Sabor de Esteli because they already have a wider spread in location. Even though the cigars are rolled at Tabacalera NOA, Riste blended the Jas Sum Kral himself.


When I release the 6×52 toro from the cellophane coat I feel a leathery Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has a few veins and some sparkling from minerals. The construction feels great and the cigar has a close foot and a very pretty pigtail, this shows some skills from the rollers at the NOA factory. The ring, designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim is a piece of art, burgundy with gold, very detailed with lions and lots of small decorations.  When you think of it, the cigars are blended by a Macedonian American, rolled by a Cuban that has a company in Nicaragua and the ring is designed by a Singaporean, this cigar is the epiphany of globalization. The aroma is medium strong and has a little charred wood mixed with manure smell.


Because of the pigtail I decided to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine considering the closed foot and I taste mild black tea and a stronger pepper flavor. Once I lit the cigar I taste some leather with blueberry and pepper, with a little fresh aftertaste. After a few puffs I taste some spices with the berries and the fresh aftertaste. After half an inch i taste a little more pepper with toast, some sweetness and a little spice. After an inch i taste more toasted bread with some cinnamon. I get a dry feeling in the back of my throat and still a bit berry and pepper. Then the berry changes into creamy chocolate. After a third I taste cedar with toast, pepper, chocolate and herbs with the creamy chocolate as the strongest. Halfway it’s chocolate with pepper and herbs. Slowly some spices show up again. The chocolate disappears and I taste cedar with spices and pepper, the flavor is amazing. The pepper is gaining strength but the background cedar and spices are still amazing.


The draw is good, just a little bit tight but all within margins. The smoke could be a little thicker but there is enough smoke. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is as straight as can be. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored, well balanced with a lot of evolution. The smoke time is two hours and ten minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would not complain if this was the only cigar I was allowed to smoke for the rest of my life.

Score: 95
95

Categories: 95, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Crna Nok Toro

I am fluent in two languages, Dutch and English, I can manage myself in German and I can handle most of the Spanish cigar names like Antiguedad, Sobremesa, Guayacan, Mi Querida and other Spanish names but leave it to that Riste Riatevski guy to mess that up by naming his cigars in Macedonian. Now Jas Sum Kral is doable and his first blend that was released has an English name (Red Knight, see a review of the lancero here), then he came out with a limited edition for a herf in Minnesota that was just called the maduro (review here), so far so good. But then he started messing with everybody out there and decided to call his Connecticut Shade cigar the Zlatno Sonce (review here), a limited edition coffin with 2 A sized cigars the Da Cebak (review next month) and this Connecticut Broadleaf one the Crna Nok, which to me sounds like something Mr. Worf, the Klingon from Star Trek, would say right before battle.


I fell in love with Jas Sum Kral the minute I smoked my first Red Knight toro, a cigar that I will review later this year, I promise and met Riste at Intertaback 2016 after being Facebook friends for a long time and helping him to get his cigars distributed in The Netherlands. Riste send me a package with some Zlatno Sonce, Crna Nok and a coffin Da Cebak and I promised to review them. This cigar, just like all other Jas Sum Kral cigars, except the Da Cebak, is blended by Riste and made at Noel Rojas’ factory Tabacalera NOA, which is becoming one of my favorite factories in Nicaragua. The cigar has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Mexican binder and a filler that has some ligero and piloto cubana corojo amongst others. On www.jassumkral.com the description says “while this cigar is smooth as fuck, I can feel the nicotine” so I my anticipation of this cigar is high.


I love the ring, as I have said in my previous Jas Sum Kral reviews, the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim did an awesome job. The only thing changed for this Crna Nok is the background color, where the Red Knight has some red in it, this ring is completely black with the golden logo and details, so very well designed and printed, beautiful ring. The cigar has a closed foot, a detail I love and it fits with the rustic, toothy dark and leathery wrapper that has a few sparkles of minerals in the leave. The construction feels good and that closed foot gives it some bonus points. The cigar has a strong charcoal smell, like its been fire cured, but mixed with dark chocolate and fresh toast.


I couldn’t find my punch so I grabbed my xikar cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste pepper, raisin and some spices. After lighting it with my Ronson lighter I taste coffee with cedar and nutmeg. After a few puffs I also taste honey. After half an inch i taste toasted wood with pepper and honey. I also taste some licorice a few puffs later and the cigar is very dry, I will probably drink a lot of water during this review. After an inch I taste that toasty, smoky wood with pepper and a faint chocolate. Every few puffs I taste some sweetness and a little lemon too. The final third starts with charred wood, sweetness, some pepper and a little lemon. The charred flavor is getting stronger but balanced well with the lemon.


The smoke is thick and full and the draw is fabulous. The ash is frayed but firm and salt & pepper colored. The burn is a little off but not so bad that it needs correcting. This medium full to full bodied cigar is smooth indeed, but still full flavored and with plenty of evolution and a great balance. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I would, great cigar!

Score: 93
number93

Categories: 93, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kilo Toro

Yes I know, almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed this cigar too, so lets call this a redux. I wanted to review this cigar with my 100 point scoring system before they were all gone so this was my last chance. Here’s the story, years ago I met Barry Stein when he worked for Miami Cigar & Co when I went to visit Nestor Miranda and Jason Wood at the office and we stayed in touch, actually, everytime I went to Miami Barry and I made time to smoke a stick or two so when I saw him post on Facebook that he was brining back his brand that he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co I asked for more information.


All Barry said that the cigar was being made in Esteli, a town I would visit soon after the conversation and after a little push Barry told me who made the cigars but I had to promise not to tell before he publicly announced it. It was Noel Rojas, back in his old factory Aromas de Jalapa, nowadays Noel works from Tabacalera NOA and Barry was kind enough to get me Noel’s contact information. This all led to the introduction of the Rojas, Sabor de Esteli and Guayacan brands in The Netherlands 18 months later but that’s a side step. I visited Noel at the factory and he gave me a bundle of the Kilo Toro and Barry asked me for pictures because he had not seen the complete cigars with the rings.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the blend as I simply don’t know, but I can tell you all about the looks. The cigar looks cool, the wrapper is has a deep dark brown color with a light oily shine and no noticeable veins, the construction feels great and you can see Noel’s Cuban heritage with the triple cap. The cigar ring is one of the best i’ve seen, high glossy paper, pitch black with a thick golden outline that really pops, white chemistry drawings and KILO in golden letters. On the back you will find the United Cigars logo, think Route 66 with 3 white stars in blue and the classic American red & white stripes. The aroma is great, deep and it reminds me of the rolling tobacco my father used to smoke when I was a kid and before his health made him stop. There is absolutely no acidic aroma at all, no ammonia, nothing.


I decided to punch the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a little raisin with a little spice and honey. I lit the cigar with a soft flame as usual. I taste coffee with some leather and jalapeño pepper. On my lips I taste a very mild honey. After a few puffs I taste pepper, a mixture of spices and some honey with a leathery aftertaste. After a centimeter I taste some cedar too.

After a third I taste some pepper, some cedar, some honey and a little cocoa. Halfway the cigar gets a little bitter on the tip of my tongue and I taste some spices, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and also a little citrus. The flavors are quite dry, I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The cigar also gets a little peppery again. Near the end I also taste some freshness and the pepper is gone. There is also a mild nutty flavor


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is too, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is firm, dense and light colored. The burn is a bit crooked though but not too bad, so I don’t need to correct. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 50 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible as Barry has sold the rights to the name and the cigar has been discontinued.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , ,

A great book about Nicaraguan cigars

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And I shot a little video: Cigaragua video on youtube

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jas Sum Kral Maduro Toro

Jas Sum Kral might be the most talked about cigar of 2016 on social media. It’s the brand of Riste Riatevski and he uses the social media like nobody else in order to get his brand name out and sell his cigars. His Red Knight is blended together with Noel Rojas and made in Noel’s factory Tabacalera NOA. Riste is from Macedonian decent and the name Jas Sum Kral means “I am king” in his native language. The first release was just a 6×52 toro with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over a double binder, one Mexican San Andres and one Nicaraguan Jalapa and undisclosed filler. I’ve been in touch with Riste on Facebook for some time and got my hands on one of this original release Red Knight toros through an account of mine, Hans van de Wittenboer from Piet van Kuyk Cigars in Eindhoven, and it blew me away. So much that I asked my then employer, the largest independent premium cigar importer in The Netherlands to take on this brand, which he initially denied.


When the new vitolas came out, a lancero, lonsdale and robusto, I asked Riste for the international wholesale prices, called a few of my Facebook savvy accounts to see if they were interested, wrote a nice order and got back to my employer with everything worked out, the fixed retail prices and the biggest order Riste had until that moment. With so many boxes pre-sold my employer couldn’t say no any longer and The Netherlands became the first international market where the Jas Sum Kral brand was available. A few months later I parted from that employer and in my last week I used the company discount to buy some Joya Red Half Corona for my wife, her favorite cigar, and Jas Sum Kral Red Knight in all sizes for me. A review of the lancero can be found here (in my old scoring method, maybe I’ll do one in my new 100 point method later this year).


I finally met Riste in person at Intertabac 2016 last september and he gave me a new Jas Sum Kral Maduro toro, a cigar (6×52) that will only be released for international markets since it wasn’t ready for the dreaded august 8 deadline and can’t be introduced to the American market unless the FDA ruling is changed. I smoked one right at the show and decided to keep one for a review, this review. The ring is the same as for the Red Knight and is designed by the Singaporean designer Nuzli Hakiim who makes the most beautiful photos for his Instagram. The design is very detailed with great us of black, burgundy, gold and white letters on a good quality thick paper. The wrapper is beautifully dark, with some even darker spots, and two veins on the side and it’s leathery to the touch. The shape of the cigar is a bit off, it’s not completely round, the sides feel a little flattened but it feels evenly filled. The cigar has a dark aroma, a little bit charred and a wet dog with a hint of ammonia.


I decided to cut the cigar with my xi2 cutter from Xikar instead of punching it. The draw is fine and cold I taste dry raisin with a little spicy and peppery aftertaste. As almost every time when smoking indoor I lit the cigar with a soft flame and straight away I taste coffee, strong, bold and bitter. Soon I taste meaty and peppery flavor. The pepper is becoming really strong, maybe even too strong. Even the smoke smells peppery. After a centimeter I also taste some dark chocolate but with a lot of pepper.

Soon after a cedar flavor shows up as a backdrop for the pepper and after a third I taste a mild metallic flavor. The pepper is still the main flavor although it’s not too overpowering anymore. Halfway the cedar and metal get accompanied by chocolate as support to the jalapeño pepper. The background flavors change to wooden notes towards the ⅔rd mark. The aftertaste has some mint in it. After the ⅔ point I taste more of a salty walnut flavor with that metal and still the pepper. The final puffs are a toasty, nutty flavor with a lot of pepper.


The smoke is great, thick and luscious but I don’t like the gray color. The ash is white and dense. The draw is great. I had to touch up a few times to correct an uneven burn, I blame the thickness of the wrapper for that, but it does effect the score. This cigar is definitely full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half. Unfortunately I didn’t get to use my awesome Jas Sum Kral nub tool.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a pepper bomb, a few years ago I loved pepper bombs but my preferences changed a little. This is a great post barbecue cigar so I’ll buy a few for the summer season. But for other occasions I will grab the red knight.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Jas Sum Kral, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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