Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Masterpiece Review


Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper type: Cameroon
Filler / Binder: Dominican Republic
Length: 9”
Ring: 52
Cost: $13.50


Appearance (0-20): The Masterpiece looks just like the name would portray – glorious. This 9 inch cigar is wrapped in a gorgeous Cameroon leaf that shimmers lightly in the light. Its got a small amount of oil present and feels perfect in your hand. There are literally no large veins and I can barely even find any small ones of note at all. The end of the cigar comes to something that I can only describe as a “tit” and the normal AF band is affixed on the top.
Score: 20

Construction (0-20): The feel if the Masterpiece is one that should make a man smile. It’s packed well, which is evident throughout the stick with at least 2-3 inch ashes before it teeters off. The ash itself is slightly flaky, but it isn’t detrimental at all to the smoking experience. The cut had only small debris, which was quite minor in the grand scheme of things. Overall I am really impressed at the presentation.
Score: 19

Strength (0-20):  When looking up some info on this, most say this is a medium bodied smoke. I personally would agree, but it flirts with full body as you get down to the last 1/3 of the cigar.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): I found the flavor to be quite enjoyable, but at the same time it was rather simple. It’s extremely easy to pick out the rich tobacco flavors that are supplemented with some hints of chocolate and a sweetness that is close to caramel. Around the halfway point you can catch some nice peppery tones that are very distinguishable with the retrohale. Unfortunately there is little else to say in terms of flavor.  
Score: 16

Value (0-20): $13.50 seems like a good price given this is a 2 hour smoke, but I find myself agreeing with our buddy over at The Traveling Stogie when he said the maduro version's favor is a good one but its rather bland for the price in terms of complexity.
Score: 16

Additional Notes: Smoked at CI, paired with Sam Adams Cinder Bock. This was my victory cigar for the Philadelphia Flyers playoff win against the Penguins (akin to my brothers choice of smokes, the Man O War Armada).


Overall (0-100): While this Masterpiece looks amazing and is well constructed, it’s not quite the solid body of work I was hoping for. The flavors are extremely pleasing with the rich tobaccos and chocolate, with just simple hints of sweet and spicy… but I feel that my money would be better invested in some other sticks at the same or a lesser pricepoint. This is absolutely worth a try, but I don’t think I would purchase more of this particular size. If you want something that is consistent throughout flavorwise, this one will fit you perfectly.
Score: 89

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Man O War Armada Review



Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Sumatra Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 56
Cost: $20.00

Appearance (0-20): And here comes another fine AJ Fernandez blend.  The band can really draw you towards a cigar, subliminal or not.  The band is a work of art that depicts a Trojan warrior helmet.  The backdrop is a deep black base, with pewter coloring throughout.  The main standout is gold leafing with the Trojan helmet.  The cigar itself is a pretty big stick, with no real blemishes.  The wrapper is medium brown, with a small bit of tooth on it.

Score: 18



Construction (0-20): The first thing that you’ll notice is how large and heavy this cigar is.  The combination of length and ring gauge is intimidating, yet an additional element is added due to the weight.  While heavy in the hand, it is fairly well balanced.  The next noticeable fact is the perfect draw.  This one is very similar to the Room 101 OSOK; the draw was very smooth and cool.  When taking each puff, there is no heat from the smoke whatsoever. Quite impressive.  The burn was even right on down, and the ash held on around 1.5” comfortably.  On a quick side note, the smoke lasted an impressive 1.75 hours.

Score: 19

Strength (0-20): I’ve smoked three of these stick, yet this one was much fuller than I remember.  I did pay more attention to this stick for the review, so that could be why.  The strength is medium-full to full.  I think a large proponent of this is the sheer size of the cigar. Near the end of the stick, you should be sitting down.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): After a few puffs, the draw was so cool that I actually couldn’t pick up any distinct flavors.  The first quick bit of flavors are a bit of spice to let you know what you are getting ready for…battle.  After the spice subsides, the main flavor notes for the rest of the stick are of sweetness and woodiness.  Cedar was very prominent, with hints of vanilla to keep the cigar nice and smooth. 

Score: 18

Value (0-20): For a $20 cigar, it is fairly well priced, but let me elaborate.  Many things were done right here, yet the price can be a big deterrent for many people.  I did receive this in a sampler pack, although I’m not sure I would go buy this on a single stick price.  I would much rather opt for another AJ cigar, Ave Maria Reconquista $18, or the Room 101 OSOK $12.  That shouldn’t be a knock on this cigar, yet there are so many options at that price range.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked at CI, paired with Sam Adams Cinder Bock. This was my victory cigar for the Philadelphia Flyers playoff win against the Penguins.

Overall (0-100): Success.  Another job well done by AJ, and I will always smoke his cigars no matter what I’ve heard about them; although it is generally good.  Everything was well done, yet I wish that more spice was integrated in the cigar to balance off the creaminess and sweetness.  Definitely a very solid stick all around, and it will let you kick back and enjoy for an extended period of time.

Score: 90


Friday, April 20, 2012

Gurkha Cellar Reserve Review


Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Havana
Wrapper type: 98 Criollo
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Length: 6”
Ring: 58
Cost: $10.00

Appearance (0-20): Typical of the Gurkha line, you will find the Cellar Reserve with its own little kitschy way of doing things. This one has a wrapper that dominates about 1/3 of the cigar, proclaiming that this is a 15 year aged cigar, and points out some of the important statistics like the batch number, quantity, and blend strength. It’s actually a pretty cool concept. The wrapper itself is nice and oily with a decent sheen and it has such a rich color to it that you almost feel bad about soon having to clip off the end and light it up. There are some small veins throughout and I don’t feel the wrap job is superb, but my hope is it wouldn’t cause any issues with the smoking itself.
Score: 17



Construction (0-20): I have always loved cigars that have this kind of shape so this one is right in my wheelhouse. The end is pigtailed off and is simply well done. The remainder of the cigar feels solid, which I am pretty happy about. The only thing that does bother me is a small nick in the tobacco at the bottom of the cigar. I checked and rechecked and the best I can say is it looks like the tobacco leaf for the wrapper ends right there. It’s disappointing to see that though, as otherwise this was pretty spot on – the cut had almost no debris and it burned evenly throughout. The ash held relatively well for an inch and a half at a time, but was a little on the flaky side of things.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  The medium to full rating is where it’s been billed. I personally found this to be more toward the medium range of things with some random punches that sock you into the full range, but it was well balanced with the flavor profile.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): There is an inherent sweetness that greets you with your initial puffs… but it isn’t without a spice and woody flavor. There’s almost a balancing act going on. The flavor of tobacco is really prevalent and is creamy throughout. Hints of other spices pop up toward the second third, but more importantly there is something of a sour orange flavor that you get mixed with chocolate. It’s really interesting how it all matches up on the tongue. Entering the final third all of the other flavors fade back and let the chocolate shine through the end of the cigar. It was a really interesting and thoughtful way to end off.
Score: 19

Value (0-20): $10 won’t kill the bank account, but it’s not exactly value packed either. If we take aside the issue with the nick and the wrap job, I would have to say it’s worth the cost. Is this a bargain? No… but it is solid. That being said, an MSRP of $10 isn’t anywhere near the top of the price scale for Gurkha.
Score: 18




Overall (0-100): There were some minor construction issues but the flavor profile is both complex and interesting. I found it really enjoyable despite the odd pairing of flavors (sour citrus and chocolate) without being overpowering in any way. Then at the end to pad the cigar with the natural chocolate sweetness is nearly genius. I wish the construction didn’t have an issue, or this could easily have topped the 90 point mark. But given how tasty this one was, (and taking apart the construction issue) consider it a possible sleeper in the $10 range.
Score: 89



Additional Notes: Paired with water at cigars international.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CAO LX2 Review




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Colorado
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Length: 5”
Ring: 52
Cost: $6.50

Appearance (0-20): Just from observation, I feel that black cigar bands give the stick a more powerful feeling.  The double black bands give you some forethought that you will experience from strength and spice.  The bands are nicely done with black, gold, and pewter coloring.  The medium brown wrapper comes together nicely, yet there is a vein and seams along the cap.

Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Upon further inspection, the cigar feels solid in the hand.  It was very well packed, which unfortunately led to a tougher draw than I would have liked.  While it wasn’t plugged, a double draw was needed to get any sorts of smoke.  The best part about the construction was the ash.  It was a nice gray ash, which coiled tightly for close to 2 inches.  The burn was even and cool, yet accompanied with a burdensome draw.

Score: 16

Strength (0-20): From initial impression and reading some reviews, I was expecting a little bit more heft.  For those unknowing, the LX2 stands for Ligero times 2.  This was closer to a higher medium or medium-full smoke.  Definitely not a full bodied stick for me, yet the flavor was good.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): Hoping for a nice kick in the teeth, the first couple of draws actually gave me sweetness.  After about an inch, the sweetness faded substantially and moved into a strong oak and earthy taste.  Additionally, you will get a pepper spice that moves in an out, but nothing that is sustained.  Overall it was enjoyable, but could have used more spice for me.

Score: 17

Value (0-20): For around $6.50, it’s definitely a good smoke to try.  I’ve had one before I started to review, and thought that it was a bit stronger.  I would like to grab another and hope for something better. Again, not a bad price for what you get.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on the deck, paired with lemonade

Overall (0-100): CAO puts out some good sticks, yet I don’t often smoke them.  I loved the Brazilia, and was hoping this would be similar with additional heft.  Unfortunately, I was left wanting more.  The bad draw was very contributing, along with the lack of strength.  For now, this is where I leave you.  Hopefully I can revisit this stick soon with a different outcome.

Score: 84


Monday, April 16, 2012

Room 101 LTD One Shot One Kill (OSOK)

Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic and Honduras
Size: 8x60x44
Cost: $12.00

Appearance (0-20):
Lyricsninja: What catches the eye first and foremost is the artwork on the outer paper wrapper. It’s a dark grey color with what looks like tattoo etchings in the shape of a skull and other symbols. When you get beyond that, its wrapped delicately in tissue paper. But within waits a little surprise – an awesome looking figurado that is huge on one end and tapers down to a slightly shaggy foot. The habano wrapper has literally no signs of blemishes and is wrapped so well that there is almost no distinction to where one part of the wrapper twists above the next. The band is a nice black band with silver on it, making it stand out perfectly. This is the epitome of what a cigar should look like, considering even the appearance itself is a complete experience.  Score: 20/20
Kollarism: This is one badass looking wrapper.  The cigar is wrapper in tissue, followed by some artwork drawn on paper.  The artwork has various symbols, with a skull represented in the middle.  The stick is perfectly tapered from end to end, and there is a small shaggy foot.  The wrapper is a light-medium brown habano that has no physical flaws. The outer wrappings itself make you want to buy this cigar. Score: 20/20





Construction (0-20):
Lyricsninja: The cut revealed no extra debris, and my hope was that this cigar would be as well constructed as it felt. Let me tell you, it was absolutely that and then some. From first light, it was extremely even on the burn with only the slightest variation. The draw was easy enough that you didn’t have to fight, but wasn’t too airy either. When it comes to the ash, I think you would be hard pressed to find a cigar of this magnitude and shape that would hold together any better. I literally was able to get to the halfway point of the smoke, that’s 4 inches folks, before the ash fell. Ditto for the last half… two total ashes for this cigar, which is not a small feat. To add to it, the smoke lasted me a hair over 2 hours to smoke. Score: 20/20
Kollarism: This was one very well put together stick.  There was no debris upon cutting, and the draw was super smooth.  The draw was so cool and smooth, that I thought that I was only sucking air.  Only upon exhaling the smoke did I realize how great it was.  The draw does get warmer as you smoke to the halfway point, but it was quite impressive.  The ash was tight and held on for about 2 inches, which is very good for the Figurado shape.  Not only was everything solid about this stick, but it lasted just under 2 hours.. Score: 19/20


Strength (0-20):
Lyricsninja: This hit the lower end of the full strength spectrum for me, which worked very well considering the nuances throughout the smoke. It left very little to be desired. Score: 18/20
Kollarism: This one hovered between the medium and med-full category for me.  It wasn’t overpowering, but gave just enough heft.  The balance between strength and flavor was very well done. Score: 18/20

Flavor (0-20):
Lyricsninja: Complexity seems to be king in this smoke. The OSOK begins with some nice woody flavors, touched up with just a hint of pepper. It keeps those characteristics, but brings in cinnamon and other spices while keeping to a really enjoyable balance. As you progress through the stick, there are other slight flavors that tantalize the palette, adding to the experience, including an almost salty nature. The flavors all seem to remain very well and in the final half it kicks in with a flavor I can only describe as fresh herbs (think dill, sage, etc). There really isn’t a standout to be seen, but everything blends together in a nearly perfect harmony. As an additional plus, this seems to billow beautiful smoke. Score: 19/20
Kollarism: Initial puffs start off with some spicy pepper, but those quickly subside.  The spice come back on and off throughout the rest of the smoke, but much more subtle.  The strongest note that I grabbed was cedar, some bits of earthiness, and some more bits of sweetness.  The flavors were very consistent, and they lasted from start to finish.. Score: 18/20


Value (0-20):
Lyricsninja: A $12.00 retail might feel like a lot, but let me break it down. For the time it takes to smoke (2 hours), if I had to choose between two smokes at $6.00 each that would take an hour a piece or this one single OSOK, I would choose this cigar hands down. Hell, given most other cigars in the $10-$15 price range, this one would still beat almost all of them. Score: 19/20
Kollarism: I don’t often smoke cigars at retail in this price range, but I am very happy that this was purchased.  $12.00 for a great cigar that lasted 2 hours is very reasonable.  I’ve also been told that this was limited to around 10,000 sticks, which add even more value here.  After smoking this, I quickly grabbed a few more and will hold on to them. Score: 19/20

Additional Notes:
Lyricsninja: Smoked at CI with my broski.
Kollarism: Smoked at CI, paired with water.

Overall (0-100):
Lyricsninja: Let me begin by saying wow! With little knowledge of this cigar, I grabbed a couple for my brother and I to try from a small local B&M based on the packaging (see appearance does matter). I am really thankful I did. From the unwrapping of the outer layers through the end of the smoke, I was extremely impressed. Its complex, flavorful, well constructed, and all around a knockout of a choice. If you can get your hands on one of these, even in a different size, I urge you to do it. The day after smoking this, I immediately went back to the cigar shop and bought a few more to put away. This is absolutely box worthy.  Score: 96/100
Kollarism: This was one of the best cigars that I’ve reviewed in awhile.  Everything from start to finish was done well, and there was no disappointment in any category.  Room 101 did a great job with presentation, and every follows suit thereafter.  There really isn’t much more that could have been done right here. If you’re looking for a 2 hour smoke that is worth every penny, look no further. Box worthy.  Score: 94/100

 Combined Score: 95/100



Friday, April 13, 2012

Camacho Triple Maduro Review



Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Honduras
Wrapper type: Maduro
Filler: Honduras
Length: 4.5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $11.60

Appearance (0-20): Initial impression is “Wow, this is a powerhouse.”  The wrapper is a deep, dark brown color with no physical flaws.  This is one of the darker maduro wrappers that I’ve seen, and fairly close to being Oscuro.  The cigars bands really help to give it a majestic look with its gleaming silver colors.  Red and blue colors are worked in, with ornate embossing and etchings.

Score: 19

Construction (0-20): This sucker is really packed well.  I was skeptical about how to the draw was going to be after feeling how tight it was.  Upon lighting it up, I was pretty close to my initial impression.  The draw wasn’t unbearable, but I did need to take a hard double draw to get enough smoke.  Aside from the draw issue, everything else was solid.  I tapped off the ash after about 1.25 inches, but it didn’t fall off. I physically had to push it off on the ashtray, and it would have lasted at least half the stick.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): Maduro, Maduro, Maduro. This is a triple maduro.  After a few puffs, you will notice that you a smoking an all maduro cigar.  While this didn’t kick my ass, I will say that it definitely sits in the full realm.  Personally I didn’t feel this a ton, but it really depending on how often you smoke full cigars.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Right off the bat, I get a small bit of spice and full on espresso.  If you’re a coffee lover, this is a good stick.  The flavors are quite consistent throughout the entire cigar.  The retrohale really gives off strong chocolate notes.  The final inch or so became a bit bitter, but that could also be the flavoring of the “bitter dark chocolate” notes.  I might have enjoyed this stick more if it wasn’t for the tough draw.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): Unfortunately, this is the killer for this stick.  While it was nicely done on most categories, almost $12 for this small stick is too much.  If you can snag these cheap like I did, then grab yourself one and enjoy.  For retail price, there are many other sticks out there for half the price.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Smoked at CI, no pairing.  I think the best pairing for this cigar would be a large, cold glass of milk.

Overall (0-100): After much anticipation for this stick, it was pretty solid.  The initial appearance was high, and the construction and strength were solid.  The flavor was sweet with its hints of espresso and dark chocolate.  The only factor that really affects this cigar is the price.  I understand that it is a puro Honduran cigar that sports a triple maduro, but the price is a little steep for what it is.

Score: 86


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Savinelli Nicaragua Reserve 2007 Vintage Trabajador Review


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Maduro
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 4”
Ring: 58
Cost: $5.60

Appearance (0-20): Savinelli took a page out of the Nub book, going with a smaller sized cigar with a unique, almost box pressed shape. The rich outer wrapper cloaks this cigar fully, with no visible blemishes, major veins, etc. The purple on the label borders a pastel in color, giving it very eye catching properties when combined with the black and silver. If you like Nubs, the appearance on this one should run shivers up your spine, in a good way.
Score: 20
Construction (0-20): When I grabbed this stick from the humidor I noticed immediately that the wrapper had a little bit of give to it, being soft to the touch. Everything felt pretty good within though, as there was just the right amount of tobacco spread throughout. The cut revealed a small amount of residue, but I will note it was just a tad more than I would have liked. The light and burn was even, with a very cool smoke down to the nub. The only other thing of note on this Savinelli is that the ash held about an inch and a half before needing to be flicked off.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  The medium to full rating seemed spot on for the cigar. It began with a very hefty strength for me, but slowly scaled back to nearly a medium smoke by the last puffs.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): I really wasn’t sure what to think going into this cigar, and smoking it gave me a bit of a conundrum too. When I began, there were both tastes of coffee and citrus with a large smash of pepper added in. The retrohale was filled with spice, giving the full kick. The same taste continues during the smoke, only varying to less pepper as the taste continued on further. Oddly enough the coffee flavor with the bit of citrus was really enjoyable, but not completely compatible at the same time. The sweet aspect compliments the coffee, but the actual taste was slightly off. Still, this was an interesting smoke.
Score: 16

Value (0-20): Looking at the prices of Nubs, this falls right in line with their MSRP. And given their taste… I would rate this as a better cigar than the majority of the Nubs I have had.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with coffee on my deck.

Overall (0-100): The major standout is how wonderful this cigar looks right off the bat. The construction is solid and it’s definitely value packed. The unfortunate portion is the slight conflict in the flavor palette, and very minor construction questions. Overall this was a very good cigar that I would have another of in a heartbeat.
Score: 89

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5 Vegas Miami Review




Information:
Country: Nicaragua    
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Corojo
Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.85

Appearance (0-20): The whole initial impression is good.  The wrapper is a smooth corojo, that boasts many small veins with one larger vein.  The wrapper is right in the middle of the road at a medium brown, and is somewhat dry to the touch.  The two cigar bands, one on the foot, give it a more elegant look.  Gold and dark blue hues give off a more majestic feel, and really add some character.

Score: 17

Construction (0-20): From start to finish, the burn was even and smooth.  The ash is a light gray/white color, and held on for about 1.25 inches at a time.  The draw was just right, and gave off ample amounts of smoke.  There were no issues with the one larger vein that was present, and no soft spots were encountered.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): This stick is coined as a full bodied smoke.  While there is quite a bit of spiciness in the beginning of the cigar, it doesn’t translate into pure strength.  I would put this close to the medium to med-full category.

Score: 16

Flavor (0-20): Right off the bat, there is quite a bit of spice.  The spice stands alone for the first ½ inch, then moves into a leathery flavor.  You will get small hints of spice as you smoke down, and it will ramp back up near the end.  Leather and woodiness pretty much sum up this cigar, with bits of spice.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): For a $5 to $6 smoke, depending on the vitola, I think this is a quality smoke.  All of the 5 Vegas line seems to hover around those price points, and this is one of the better smokes I believe.  Definitely a repeat purchase.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Smoked on the deck, paired with iced tea.

Overall (0-100): Overall, this was a good smoke.  I was very pleased with the initial spice, and wish that it might have stuck around a little bit longer.  Needless to say, 5 Vegas did a good job and priced this one competitively.  I would pick this one up again and recommend to another fellow smoker.
Score: 86


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Perdomo La Tradicion Cabinet Series Res Led, Oscuro R Review


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Oscuro
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 7”
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.00

Appearance (0-20): The first impression is a positive one, with a darker wrapper coating the outside of this cigar. The red, gold, and black on the band stands out well against the background, giving it a nice feel. Some minor veins are present, though there is nothing major to note at all.
Score: 18


Construction (0-20): The Churchill size feels right, albeit a bit thinner with the 50 ring gauge. The initial cut yielded quite a bit of debris, which set off some alarms for me. Thankfully the cut wasn’t indicative of the rest of the construction, since this Perdomo smoked well. The light and burn was nearly perfect throughout, with about an inch and a half between ashes. The draw was a bit tight at first, but as it progressed it loosened up enough that it hit the sweet spot where it was only a slight tightness with a nice draw to it.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  The medium to full rating seemed spot on for the cigar, considering it tends to teeter between those two strengths at varying points of the cigar.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): The only unfortunate part of this cigar is its rather one dimensional when pertaining to taste. It begins with some nice pepper that fades into a sweetness that is reminiscent of chocolate. The pepper doesn’t fade away but instead seems to take a backseat until the final third, where it kicks up again. There are some minor woody notes that pop up throughout, but it blends well with the taste.
Score: 16







Value (0-20): For $5.00, this is a stick that will be consistent and last you about an hour and a half. Per the usual, these can be found sub-retail and I would consider that price to be right on for what it is.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with coffee on my deck.



Overall (0-100): While I don’t consider this to be a top cigar, its definitely one I could smoke anytime and be happy with it. It has a decent consistent flavor that is matched by a good construction and appearance. Its worth having around if you are looking for something that you don’t have to think much about, but just want to sit back and enjoy.
Score: 86