Thursday, May 31, 2012

CAO Brazilia Box Press Review

Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Brazil
Wrapper type: Maduro
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.5”
Ring: 55
Cost: $5.50




Appearance (0-20): Much like its big brother, the original CAO Brazilia, the band is the colors of the Brazilian flag with blue, green, and yellow. To go along with it is a second band that compliments the first while showing off that it is a box pressed cigar. The exterior wrapper has a very nice darkness to it, but there are some noticeable veins that litter across it, and I would call them roughly medium in size. Otherwise, it looks relatively solid.
Score: 16

Construction (0-20): This is one area where I had some minor qualms, but really nothing to scoff at. Box pressed cigars don’t always give me the best gut feeling, as I have had my share of poorly constructed ones. This guy here… is not one of those. The initial feel was positive, with very little in terms of possible gaps of tobacco. Cutting the Brazilia was not only quick and painless but was also nearly excess free. After lighting there wasn’t a point in the entire cigar that it didn’t stay even. And finally the ash stayed on for almost two inches in each pop. This one is a well-constructed cigar.
Score: 19



Strength (0-20):  This is another medium bodied cigar that really sticks right in the middle of the range for the majority of the smoke. I would say it slips a bit toward the mild end of the spectrum, but that actually works to the Brazilia’s favor given the flavor profile.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): The initial light has a slight bit of pepper left on the tongue, but it fades rather quickly into a coffee with cream taste, but it remains almost earthy at the same time. It has a slight bitter tang to it that is counterbalanced well with the cream and soon after, the almost unmistakable taste of dark chocolate. At this point in the smoke, its more toward the mild end of the spectrum, slowly building up strength. The concentration of flavors increases in the second half of the cigar; with the Brazilia bringing more of the dark chocolate to the party and adding back the peppery spice that was hit on the initial draw. By the final puffs, I found the dark chocolate taking over and pushing the pepper out of sight and mind.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): For the price, this is likely a decent alternative to an infused cigar, like the Drew Estate Java. It’s a bit cheaper, and for the cigar purists out there it’s a cigar that has distinct dark chocolate and coffee tones that are enjoyable.
Score: 18



Additional Notes: Smoked in my garage, paired with Guinness.

Overall (0-100):  The main flavors of the CAO Brazilia Box Press are ones that I typically enjoy with cigars – coffee, dark chocolate, some spice, and some supporting undertones. However, I also find myself looking for a bit more complexity than I was given. A few points taken away in each category really nickeled and dimed the Brazilia down a few notches, but the honest truth is this is a very well-constructed box pressed cigar that isn’t insanely expensive at $5.50. The medium strength mixed with the flavors makes this the perfect cigar to pair with coffee on a cool summer morning while relaxing outside.
Score: 89


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Liga Privada Undercrown Review



 Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Mexican
Wrapper type: San Andres Maduro
Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan Habano
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $7.95

Appearance (0-20): The initial impression is great!  The deep dark brown wrapper of the Undercrown is very well packed and oily.  The wrapper was very toothy; I’m not sure if this was from having it in my humidor for 6 months, or natural from production to the store.  The caps were so well put on, that I had trouble seeing the lines to clip off the end.  The band uses the Liga Privada emblem, and utilizes a nice deep blue color to offset the gold embossing.  Overall the stick is very inviting to an cigar enthusiast who has never come across this stick before.

Score: 19

 Construction (0-20): Initially after clipping off the cap, the cigar draw was somewhat tight.  Once it was light, the draw didn’t really matter as ample amounts of smoke were given.  This cigar absolutely smolders when not smoking it, and you breath like a dragon when exhaling.  You neighbors will probably think something is on fire next door.  Some people like this ( I personally do), while others don’t.  The ash was a beautiful speckled white ash that held on nicely for 1.5 to 2 inches.

Score: 19

Strength (0-20): This sits right around medium-full.  Depending on your tolerance, you will be higher or lower on that scale.  The balance was perfect; not too heavy, but very full on flavors.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Straight off of the first draw, you will get very full flavors.  After you get about an inch into the Undercrown, you will really notice how earthy and cocoa are so prominent.  I would highly encourage retrohales during this stick, as the flavor will really burst and give you a better experience.  There is a bit of spice during different points, which really gives a nice balance to the inherent sweetness present.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): I was happy with the price point.  When you look at the quality of products and amount of work that does into the stick manufacturing, the price point is more than fair.  While there are many good cigars around this price range, the price doesn’t make me not want to buy it. A very good value!
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck. I started the paring with Makers Mark, but switched to water because it was diminishing the Undercrown flavors.

Overall (0-100): This was a cigar that I had to smoke all the way down to the nub, or I felt like I was wasting it.  Top to bottom, I’ve had no issues with any of their smokes.  For an affordable cigar, this is one that both newbies and expert enthusiasts can enjoy.  I’ve only smoked 3 of them so far, yet the experience was good each time.  This is another cigar that I will look for in the future, and recommend to others.

Score:  92


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Perdomo Exhibicion Review




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaraguan
Wrapper type: Sun Grown
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 5”
Ring: 54
Cost: $6.50

Appearance (0-20): Living so close to Cigars International, I see Perdomo cigars all the time as they have a large section at the store.  I’ve grown accustomed to seeing them, and unfortunately they generally don’t jump out at me.  The Exhibicion has a light colored sun grown wrapper without any flaws.  Cigar bands don’t make the cigar great or not, but they do in fact help sell.  Perdomo is a more classic type of brand, and there is nothing of note to make it stand out.

Score: 16

Construction (0-20): No issues here at all.  The cap clipped off with zero debris, and the prelight draw was tight.  This didn’t affect the smoke at all, as the stick opened up quite easily upon lighting and gave off ample amounts of smoke.  The ash held on for close to 2 inches, and the draw was cool and smooth.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): Listed as medium, I feel like it missed the mark.  Mild-medium would probably have been a better gauge for this stick.  As you will see in the following section, the flavors are done well without much power. Looking at this lighter stick, I would have guessed mild-med.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): I smoked this after a long day of work, and I really enjoyed the flavors.  They were very creamy and sweet.  There were hints of woodiness, but the overpowering flavor was creamy and smooth.  While there wasn’t much complexity in terms of flavor transitions and different notes, they did blend together well to give an enjoyable smoking experience.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): Posted at $6.50, I really don’t have a problem with its value.  There are some, but not many, good cigars for under the $5.00 price point.  I think the average price for a solid cigar is in the $5 to $8 range.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with Sam Adams Irish Red.

Overall (0-100): There were no glaring flaws in the smoke, yet the Exhibicion really didn't have anything that stood out.  I hate to sound like I’m knocking this cigar, because I’m not.  The problem that I have is this: At $6.50, I could name 10 cigars that have much better flavor in terms of complexity or robustness.  Some people do enjoy a lighter flavored cigar, and this would be a very good candidate.  Overall another solid Perdomo product, just not my cup of tea.

Score:  85


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CAO OSA Sol Review

Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper origin: Honduras
Wrapper type: Honduras
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua and Honduras
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 58
Cost: $5.20


Appearance (0-20): The bright green, black, and white stand out as opposed to the colors usually used for cigar bands, giving this cigar a unique appeal right off the bat. The wrapper has a caramel color to it, which is also inviting for a lighter cigar. The feel of the wrapper was oily but rough… it’s a feel that one might call ‘rustic’. There are very thin veins along the stick, with a small noticeable blemish or two on the tobacco itself. Otherwise, it’s in great shape.
Score: 16

Construction (0-20): Initial feel was a good one, although I had some fears that it might be a little too tightly packed. The cut revealed very little debris, but when I went for a cold draw my fears were confirmed – it was over packed. After snipping some back, and upon lighting and burning a bit, it loosened up slightly (although unfortunately not to an ideal state). The burn was slightly uneven and jagged, but it burned cool throughout while billowing out thick smoke. The ash only held for an inch to an inch and a half at a time, and it displayed a salt and pepper coloration.
Score: 15

Strength (0-20):  Medium strength reigns supreme here, with it sitting nearly in the middle of everything. Slight variations occur throughout the cigar, which is very well done as they aren’t abrupt changes.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): A host of flavors are found throughout the OSA Sol, ranging from pepper all the way to sweetness. When beginning the smoke I found myself greeted by a really rich earthy core that showed some nice hits of charred wood. When I say charred wood, I’m thinking of the type of taste you get in your mouth when sitting by a campfire. There is a nice chocolate-caramel type of taste that lingers on the edge of the tongue too, balancing with a bitter taste (perhaps something of a slight coffee flavor) that’s resident here. The retrohale reveals a hunk of pepper spice to the party, with just a tad of sweetness. When you reach beyond the first third, the flavors that were there previously seem to take turns with which one will be in the spotlight, but the earthy core remains through it all. This continues along until the OSA goes out.
Score: 17

Value (0-20): I can’t give the OAS too much of a knock, as the price is low for the size and quality of the stick at under $6 per.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked at CI, paired with water.

Overall (0-100):  I picked up the OSA Sol at a small B&M up in Pittsburgh on the recommendation of the shop owner. By in large, it was a successful buy given the size and flavors that it’s got. While it isn’t my favorite CAO by any means, it’s also not my least favorite... and at the price it really isn’t a bad buy. Still, there are other smokes I personally would choose over this at the same price, but it’s worth the money for someone looking for a medium bodied stick with an earthy core that isn’t obtrusively complex. Myself? I was a bit bored by the end, which could be the results of having a larger stick, so perhaps the robusto is worth giving a whirl…
Score: 84


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Room 101 San Andres Review



 
Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Mexico
Wrapper type: San Andres
Filler: Corojo and Criollo
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $6.00

Appearance (0-20): This small stick has a dark brown San Andres wrapper.  I generally don’t go for this type of wrapper, but we’ll see how it goes.  There are no physical flaws, which quickly brings your eyes to the awesome band.  As talked about before, cigar bands really do nothing for a cigar other than grabbing your attention. This one is no exception to the rule.  Room 101 has some cool artwork that wants you to pick up this stick.

Score: 18

Construction (0-20): Overall everything felt well packed and there were no roll issues either.  The wrapper came together nicely, and burned very even.  The ash held a solid coil for about 1.25”, and was various shades of gray.  The draw was very smooth, and the San Andres wrapper turned out to be quite nice.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): This one sits smack dab in the middle of the scale as a medium.  It was no light cigar, but there wasn’t much heft either.  This is one that you can relax with, and really sit back and enjoy the flavors.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): The beginning gave quite a spice that lasts for close to an inch.  The flavors then move to sweet hints, which are almost fruity in nature.  I really liked the balance of spice-sweetness in cigars.  Strong cedar notes will come throughout, but you will find more subtle notes of spice in the rest of the cigar. Very well done and enjoyable.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): $6.00? Yes please!  The value of this stick I feel is on the low end, yet it was only a robusto.  Box price would drop that down even more, but it’s a great price for even a single.

Score: 19

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with lemonade.

Overall (0-100): For the price of the stick, its quite a steal.  Room 101 is quickly becoming a favorite brand of mine.  This stick, along with the OSOK, has really impressed me.  I would recommend for you try at least give one of these a try.  I will be buying any other Room 101’s that I have yet to smoke, and will look for future releases as well.
Score:  89