Posts Tagged With: STG

Torano Vault Blend A-008 Robusto

The story goes that the Toraño Family kept a journal of all the blends they toyed with since 1982, even the ones that didn’t make it, and that the journal was kept in a vault. And that in the late zeroes Charlie Toraño was playing around with the old blends his father experimented with, found one he liked but couldn’t get one of the ingredients and fixed that with a second binder from the vulcanic island of Ometepe.


To me that sounds like an amazing marketingstory, straight out of the mind of a marketeer, but of course I can’t prove it. I knew Toraño was having it difficult, so a good story could help. In the end it didn’t and the company got sold to STG/General Cigars. But this blend got released in 2011, before STG swooped Toraño up. The blend consists of a Colorado wrapper from Nicaragua, two binders, one from Ometepe and the other from Jamastran in Honduras. The filler comes from Esteli and Condega in Nicaragua.


The 5×52 cigar comes in a dark, almost black, wrapper which has a bit of a sandpaper touch to it. The foot ring is silver with thin black letters saying Blend A-008 while the main ring is black and silver, with the Toraño logo and name in silver on the black background and VAULT written in black on the silver background. The construction feels good the shape looks good, the cap is good. The cigar has a strong aroma, like tar on an old shed in a sunny day mixed with hay and cows.


After cutting the cigar I taste a strong oak with pepper with a perfect cold draw. And after lighting I taste a strong espresso with some cane sugar. After a centimeter the sugar is gone, I taste some coffee, not as strong as before. I also taste a hint of nutmeg. After a third I taste some sort of sweetness that I can’t explain. It’s not honey, it’s not sugar but it’s nice. The other flavor is wood. Halfway the sweetness disappears and all I taste is a meaty wood. The flavors slowly change into coffee again towards the end.


The draw is just perfect, yet the black and white as is a bit coarse. The smoke is thick but not exactly white, there is some brownish glow in the smoke. The cigar is medium bodied and flavored with a good burn. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? I don’t know if these cigars are still made, since Toraño is now part of STG, but I wouldn’t mind another fiver.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Honduran cigars, Torano | Tags: , , , ,

Don Tomas Clasico Robusto

I have several assorted boxes of cigars in my humidor, and I dedicated one box as ‘review box’. I sorted one of the assorted boxes out and if I had just a single cigar of a brand it would go into the review box, if I had multiple cigars in the box one would go into the review box while the rest stayed in the assorted box. And every time I go for a review I pick one from the review box. Today it was the Honduran Don Tomas Clasico Toro, a cigar made by General Cigars.


Now the cigar is named robusto but the 5 1/2 inch length is actually right in between a 5 inch robusto and a 6 inch toro. The ring gauge is 50, just as with a classic robusto or toro. I must have had this in my humidor for a few years since the cellophane started to discolor but I have no recollection on how old the cigar is, where I got it and how much it was. I know its a cheap cigar though.


The wrapper is a nice medium brown and quite oily, on the back I see one thick vein though that should have been flattened. The rest of the wrapper is flawless. The construction feels a bit hard, but evenly hard and because of the big vein I mentioned the head of the cigar isn’t beautifully rounded. The ring is very simple, black with golden edges, a yellow ring around it with black letters Don Tomas, topped with a golden crown and at the bottom yellow letters clasico on a black back. The ring is glossy and looks a bit tacky, the print quality isn’t the best I have seen. The aroma is quite strong, barnyard and lemon, that’s what I smell.


I punched the cigar and the raisin flavored cold draw is fine. After lighting I taste coffee with some grass. After half an inch I taste salted peanuts. After a third the cigar turns a little harsh. I taste some cinnamon and vanilla. The final thirds is mildly salted peanuts again with vanilla and some mint.


The smoke is decent, in thickness and volume. The draw is fine. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is pretty straight. This cigar is medium in body and flavor with a low evolution level. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, even though it’s a budget cigar I won’t.

Score: 80

Red balloons with ribbon - Number 80

Red balloons with ribbon – Number 80

Categories: 80, Don Tomas, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA | Tags: , , , ,

CAO Osa Sol Lot 54

Another CAO, and there it goes again. I so want to like this brand, they have cool concepts, I like Rick Rodriguez, I love their artwork and creativity but almost every time I’m disappointed by what they produce. I guess being part of General Cigars doesn’t help either, almost all of the products of General Cigars don’t get my seal of approval and I have a theory about that. It’s all about passion that’s being put into the product.


For example, if you taste a hamburger with meat from a small farmer, butchered by a real butcher, grilled by a real chef who all put love and passion into the product, stick it on a bun made by a small local baker you get a much better product than a McDonalds or any chain burger. And that goes for everything, not just food but also cigars and companies as big as General and Altadis are being run by bookkeepers who outnumber and overrule the passionate tobacco people in the company, creating bland, middle of the road, products.


The cigar, made in Honduras, measures 6×54. The filler comes from Nicaragua and Honduras while the binder is Connecticut broadleaf. The wrapper is special though, it comes from the Olancho San Augustin valley in Honduras and it’s a sun grown wrapper, hence the name OSA Sol. The river that runs through the area is the inspiration for the artwork, the green S on the rings and boxes is the shape of the river. The white background is actually a map of the area and the bright green letters are a nice contrast color. The wrapper is quite dark, oily and smooth. The construction feels hard, but evenly hard and the cap is done well. The aroma is mild, but deep and quite dark, like manure from a scary animal deep inside the woods.


I had cut the cigar. The cold draw is great, i taste dry tobacco, raisin and something spicy on my lips. After lighting I taste dry dirt, pepper and coffee. There’s a bit of nutmeg in the flavor too. After an inch I taste dry tobacco, quite meaty, with a growing pepper. Halfway the flavors turn a little to brown spices, autumn flavors, with a little pepper. Near the ends the flavors pick up, pepper, nutmeg, five spice and a little sweetness. And I like this last part.


The draw is a bit loose. The light gray ash is firm and dense. The smoke is thin and quite low in volume. The burn is straight. This is a medium bodied medium flavored cigar that lacks evolution. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 85
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Categories: 85, C.A.O. Fabrica de Tabacos Honduras, CAO, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , ,

CAO MX2 Robusto

CAO and me, it’s not a good marriage. I love the creativity of the brand, they always find a good theme to build a line around, cars, music, opera, it doesn’t matter, they always take the theme to the next level with the packaging, the names and the advertising yet most of their cigars are a let down to me, even the ones that get a lot of praise by the general public. And that’s also part of the fun of this cigar smoking hobby, everybody has their personal preferences. By the way, happy birthday Rick Rodriguez.


This MX2 is a highly praised line, a lot of my friends love this cigar, and I have had one years ago that didn’t made any impression so now I’m revisiting it after a few years to see if some aging did do the cigar good or that my preferences changed. Both are possibilities, I mean, if you browse old reviews of mine you’ll see I loved the big ring gauges and even wrote that me & maduro wrappers would never be friends, now I love the thinner cigars and the maduro wrapper, more recently I had to change my “I hate Connecticut shade” phrase since I smoked a few that I enjoyed, so maybe that will happen with CAO in general or at least this MX2 robusto.


The dark Connecticut Broadleaf looks dark and oily with hardly any veins. I see some lighter colored smears and I wonder if this is a boiled or painted wrapper. Underneath the Connecticut Broadleaf is a Brazilian binder, also maduro which explains the Mx2 name (maduro x 2) and fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru and the Dominican Republic. This 5×50 robusto seems well made with a well rounded head and a perfect  cap and it feels well constructed. The ring is unique yet nothing special, they are two black rings connected in the middle with silver lines and silver CAO MX2 writing on nice paper with a good printing quality. The aroma is medium strong and quite dark, manure with some moist wood.


I cut the cigar with a double bladed guillotine cutter and the cold draw is fine. At first I don’t taste a lot but then I clearly get a spicy taste on my lips with raisin and fresh wood. After lighting with my $2 single key flame that I bought in Singapore I taste coffee with a very mild sweetness. After half an inch I taste fresh wood with a little pepper. Soon after I taste some dark chocolate bitterness too, which I like. Halfway the cigar is just mildly bitter with a dirt flavor and pepper. The final third starts with dark chocolate and pepper. The flavors go back to the dirt and pepper again towards the end.


The draw is fantastic, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is quite dark, layered and firm. The smoke is reasonable in thickness and volume. The burn is fine. The cigar is medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah

Score: 87

Categories: 87, C.A.O. Fabrica de Tabacos Honduras, CAO, Honduran cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Macanudo Inspirado Gold Robusto

I have a man cave, the only place in the house where it’s allowed to smoke, even for my cigarette smoking wife. It’s a decent size room with a desk, a walk in humidor, my dedicated lancero humidor, a tv and four comfortable chairs. Once every few weeks some friends drop by for an evening of banter, cigars, booze and laughter and often they show their gratitude of me inviting them into my house by giving me a cigar. Now thats not needed, I have over 5000 cigars, but I appreciate the fact that they take time to either select a cigar from their stash for me or take the time to go out to a cigar shop and buy something for me, it’s the thought that counts even when I get a cigar that is way out of my comfort zone, like this Macanudo Inspirado Gold Robusto.


Now you wonder why this Macanudo Inspirado Gold is out of my comfort zone? Because of the brand and because of the wrapper. Let me start with the wrapper: Connecticut shade, the wrapper I hate more than any other wrapper. And then the brand, it’s a Macanudo and the best Macanudo I have ever smoked didn’t rank higher than “decent”, heck, anything from the General Cigar factories never ranked higher than decent in my book, decent or less. And I think that has to do with the sheer size of the company and the shareholders, the passion is not in the tobacco but in the money, now I’m not talking about everybody in the company, I know there are passionate tobacco people employed by General Cigars/Scandinavian Tobacco, but they are outranked by the bookkeepers, marketing managers and accountants. And when money is the main factor passion goes down and so does quality. I mean, go to a passionate ‘one off’ hamburger joint and the hamburgers are so much better than those McDonald’s or Burger King patties, a craft beer is so much better than a Heineken, Coors, Miller or Budweiser and a Flor de Cano rum is nicer than Bacardi because you taste the passion and craftmenship, the people behind the smaller companies take pride in their work and not only look at how much a product can make them.


The wrapper has a pale and brittle appearance, the wrapper is far from even, has unevenly placed pockets of tooth and just looks like its sick. The construction feels good but the triple cap is placed uneven and ugly too. The aroma is quite strong for a mild, Connecticut shade cigar but its not pleasant, an acidic ammonia and barnyard smell. The ring is simple, a matte gold ring with shiny gold outlines and the macanudo logo in shiny gold with red. The dull gold makes the wrapper even look more pale, the designers of the ring should have picked another color in my humble opinion.


Because the wrapper is so brittle and delicate I devoted to cut the cigar instead of punching. The cold draw is fine with a little chocolate flavor and a peppery aftertaste. The first puff give an unpleasant hay flavor, musty as all Connecticut Shade cigars and a little harsh. The harshness is only for a few puffs, after that I taste a mild but musty chocolate flavor and a little bit of pepper. After an inch I taste autumn leafs with some nutmeg and some sweetness. It’s not as musty as in the beginning anymore. It’s actually not bad what I’m tasting now. Halfway I taste sugar with the leafs, some nutmeg and cedar. The flavors then turn sweet and nutty with a little pepper on the background. The pepper is getting stronger while the sugar turns to caramel. Near the end the cigar gets harsh again so it’s time to put it in the ashtray and let it die.


The ash is silver colored and firm. The smoke is medium in thickness and volume. The draw is perfect and the burn straight as an arrow. This cigar is mild in body and medium in flavor but well balanced. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but if someone gives it to me I’ll smoke it again on a Sunday morning. And this is why I like getting cigars that I would normally dismiss if I shop myself.

Score: 86
86

Categories: 86, Honduran cigars, Macanudo | Tags: , , , , ,

Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo de Tradicion Epicure

Now even though Hoyo de Monterrey sounds Cuban, is a Cuban brand and is named after the plantation at San Juan y Martinez there is also a non Cuban copy, owned by General Cigars, which is part of the STG group and they make their Hoyo de Monterrey cigars in Honduras.


This Hoyo de Tradicion line is made with fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic wrapped in a Honduran rosado wrapper from Jamastran. The cigar that I am smoking was a gift from an American friend and comes from 2006, so it has been aged for over a decade.


The reddish wrapper looks a bit dry but beautiful with thin veins. The construction feels good, the cigar has the right amount of resistance when I gently squeeze it but the cap isn’t very pretty, then again, it’s not horrible either. The ring is simple, white with red and gold and I would have liked it if there was any mention of Honduras on the ring.  The medium strong aroma has a bit of a manure smell, no ammonia though after more than a decade of aging.


The cold draw is great, mild sweet but also a dry tobacco flavor. Directly after lighting I taste a very sweet coffee. After just a few puffs the cigar turns peppery and a little harsh. And it keeps getting worse, the harshness is growing. There is also a saltines going on. After a third I taste a harsh, young wood flavor, sharp, unrefined and harsh. There’s also a little pepper. Halfway a lemony acidity shows up with the flavors I tastes before. The harshness fades in the final third, I taste pepper with some floral flavors.


The draw is good. The light gray ash is dense and tight. The smoke is thin though, and not a lot in volume. The burn is all right. Medium bodied and medium flavored is what I call this cigar, with an hour and a half smoke time.

Would I buy this cigar again? Damn right I won’t.

Score: 85
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Categories: 85, Honduran cigars, Honduras American Tobacco SA, Hoyo de Monterrey | Tags: , , ,

Cigar of the month May

In may I published 19 reviews and this is the the list, ranking from best to worst.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Lonsdale with a 96 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Jas Sum Kral Red Knight Lonsdale (Nicaragua) 96 points
2) Goviado Lancero (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Jas Sum Kral Zlatno Sonce Soloman (Nicaragua) 92 points
4) Viaje Platino Lancero (Honduras) 92 points
5) Goviado Torpedo (Nicaragua) 92 points
6) La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull (Dominican Republic) 91 points
7) Eiroa the first 20 years Prensado (Honduras) 91 points
8) Alec Bradley Post Embargo Robusto (Honduras) 91 points
9) Mayimbe Robusto (Nicaragua) 91 points
10) La Sirena Merloin Robusto (Dominican Republic) 90 points
11) Aging Room Solera Fantastico (Dominican Republic) 89 points
12) Brick House Connecticut Toro (Nicaragua) 89 points
13) C.A.O. Pilon Robusto (Nicaragua) 89 points
14) La Gloria Cuban Duke (Cuba) 87 points
15) Don Ibarra Natural Belicoso (Dominican Republic) 86 points
16) Don Ibarra Natural Robusto (Dominican Republic) 86 points
17) Undercrown Shade Gordito (Nicaragua) 86 points
18) Don Ibarra Natural Gordo(Dominican Republic) 85 points
19) Gurkha 125h anniversary Rothschild (Dominican Republic) 79 points

 

 

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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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Cigar of the month January

In 2018 I will do a cigar of the month again and here’s the list for january, 15 cigars, in order from most liked to least liked.

The cigar with the highest rating last month is:

Drew Estate Undergrown Sun Grown Flying Pig with a 93 score

Now as for the complete list of cigars I published:

1) Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown Flying Pig (Nicaragua) 93 points
2) C.A.O. Fuma em Gorda Toro (Nicaragua) 93 points
3) Balmoral Añejo XO Gran Magnifico (Dominican Republic) 93 points
4) Plasencia Alma del Campo Toro (Nicaragua) 92 points
5) Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro (Dominican Republic) 91 points
6) Gurkha Ghost Robusto (Dominican Republic) 91 points
7) Kristoff CG Robusto (Dominican Republic) 91 points
8) Epic Maduro Lancero (Dominican Republic) 90 points
9) Vegas de Santiago D8 Corona (Costa Rica) 90 points
10) Micallef Gomez Sanchez Esperiencia Prominente (Nicaragua) 89 points
11) Vegas de Santiago D8 Short Robusto (Costa Rica) 89 points
12) Vegas de Santiago D8 Corto (Costa Rica) 89 points
13) Vegas de Santiago D8 Toro (Costa Rica) 88 points
14) Xiphos Connecticut Robusto (Costa Rica) 88 points
15) Romeo Y Julieta EL 2016 (Cuba) 86 points

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C.A.O. Fuma em Corda

I love CAO and I hate CAO. I love their creativity, how everything comes together with the cigars and the packaging, the names and all but somehow their cigars aren’t for my palate. No complaints about construction, not even about the quality of the tobacco, everything is good, they are just not for my palate. Until Rick Rodriguez gave me the Amazon Basin, now that was a cigar that I did like and I rated it with a 92 score.


Now at Intertabac I met up with Stijn Elbersen and Rick Rodriguez and they handed me the rest of the trilogy, the Fuma em Corda, named after the way the farmers fermented the tobacco, rolled up like a rope and the Anaconda. The cigars are made in Nicaragua, where the arapiraca tobacco was blended with Brazilian Braganca tobacco and Honduran and Nicaraguan filler. Add a Cameroon binder and a Honduran Corojo wrapper and you have the CAO Fuma em Corda. I smoked the toro, the vitola that was exclusive to the online retailers.


The wrapper is dark brown but not evenly brown, some darker smears here and there but it fits the whole look with the piece of rolled up tobacco as a ring, with a little imagination you can see yourself smoking this cigar in the rainforest. Where the Amazon Basin had the string as a ring, the Fuma em Corda has it crossed over the front.  When you walk into a cigar shop, this is the cigar that will stand out. The cigar feels evenly filled, firm to the touch and the cap is nice, something I always look at. The cigar has a strong smell, poop and some minty freshness is what I get from sniffing the cigar.


I wanted to punch the cigar but I just sat down with a bottle of water, my preferred drink while reviewing, the latest episode of The Walking Dead was loaded and then I realized my punch was at my desk, I had a cutter in my reach so I cut the cigar instead. The cold draw is a bit loose. After lighting the cigar I taste coffee with a very spicy, peppery aftertaste. After half an inch i taste herbs and spices with a little sweetness. After a third the flavor completely changes to wood with licorice and herbs. There is still a peppery undertone with a little citrus. Halfway the licorice and pepper are the dominant flavors. Slowly the wood returns. Near the end the pepper grows in strength and overpowers the other flavors.


The draw is a little loose yet the smoke is thick, full, white and plentiful, it made my air cleaner work overtime. The pepper and salt colored ash is firm. The burn is straight. There is a lot of evolution, a lot of flavor changes in this medium full bodied, full flavored cigar. The smoke time is little over two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I hope there will be a new batch of these or that the trilogy will be a standard offering.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, C.A.O. Fabricos de Tabacos Nicaragua, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

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