Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oliva Series G Maduro




 Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Connecticut
Wrapper type: Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
Length: 4.5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $4.00


Appearance (0-20): The Oliva G has a beautiful dark maduro wrapper that looks delicious.  There are no blemishes that are noticeable, and the cigar is wrapped with a pretty generic band.  The band basically includes some basic colors, the brand, and the “G” to signify what series it is from. Great wrapper, but nothing else to really catch the eye.

Score: 16

Construction (0-20): Overall, the construction was very well done.  The only flaw could be that the cap wasn’t wrapped very flush.  There were no real noticeable veins or soft spots to speak of.  The draw was great, and the ash was outstanding.  It held on for close to 3 inches and had a beautiful white color to offset the dark brown wrapper.  Another nice aspect is how perfectly shaped the box press was.

Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Sitting right in the middle of the scale, the G was a solid medium smoke.  There wasn’t much to note, except that there was nothing to heavy that would overpower the smoke.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): Right off the bat you will find some great, rich flavors.  The smoke is essentially very sweet, and there is no real spice balance.  If I am having a sweeter cigar, I do like to have some kind of balance in the flavors.  This was an exception, and could be considered a great dessert cigar.  The most prevalent flavor notes are dark chocolate, coffee, and some woodiness. Start to finish, the flavors are very consistent and robust.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): For a single stick, this is an outstanding value.  Roughly $4.00 or less, there aren’t many smokes that I have come across that will deliver this kind of flavor for the price.  Every inch of the cigar has rich flavors, and the value is definitely present.

Score: 19

Additional Notes: Smoked at CI, paired with seltzer water.

Overall (0-100): Oliva isn’t really a go to brand of mine, yet they do produce some nice smokes that I enjoy.  This is an excellent smoke for the price, and it actually surprised me.  The flavors were consistent and the construction was excellent.  If you are looking for a cheap, rich, sweet cigar---this could be one that you might want to try.

Score:  88


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Liga Privada T52


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Connecticut
Wrapper type: Broadleaf
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua, Honduras, & Brazil
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $12.00


Appearance (0-20): There is nothing to not love about the first appearance of the cigar. The T52 has a great deep Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that is practically coated in oils but sports a slightly reddish hue to the tobaccos. The simply "written" style band proclaiming that its made only for the boss is a nice touch. The colors of the band also seamlessly entwine into the wrapper, as not to clash at all. Its a nice size with what seems to be the right amount of heft.
Score: 19


Construction (0-20): Upon picking the cigar up, you can tell that it is well packed. There are literally no gaps that I feel that would cause me any concern, and there are (perhaps most importantly) no areas that feel uneven. Upon cutting the T52 there was nearly no debris, and it gave a prelit draw that was slightly tough. After the first inch or so of smoking, however, it loosened up perfectly and continued to have just the right slight amount of resistance. The burn stayed relatively close to straight with some small runs, but nothing of major concern. The ash was very tight and controlled with little flaking and had a really rich gray color. No retouches needed on this at all, and I am happy to say the ash held for at least two inches at a time, and sometimes it held out to nearly 3 inches.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20):  Full. The nicotine kick in these is a pretty swift one right in the pants region for sure, however its well blended with the right spices to keep it from being overpowering.
Score: 19



Flavor (0-20): Sometimes a cigar hits you so well with flavor that you don't even know where to begin. This is one of those smokes for me. Very woodsy flavors came through to begin, and a backdrop of leather mingled in with a really peppery finish. The retrohale gave an additional pepper blast that was extremely appreciated. But as I traversed through the cigar I was greeted with cocoa, coffee, and some bold earthier notes. And don't forget that wonderful pepper throughout. Honestly the complex levels developed in here are outstanding, and are melded expertly to keep from a disjointed feeling.
Score: 19


Value (0-20): $12.00 for a cigar begins to get into a little elevated of a price range, but when considering the quality of the craftsmanship, you truly do get what you pay for here. 
Score: 19

Overall (0-100):  When looking at cigars that top the $10 pricepoint, its often hard to consider it to be a "value" type of cigar. But there are those unusual gems that you not only get what you pay for, but you get something even better than you pay for. The mantra I heard from Jonathan Drew of "we wont force production out the door to make a few extra bucks, because we wont compromise our product like that... we are putting out a quality product and that takes time" is really evident with the T52. Its hard to get your hands on these in a lot of areas, but it is indeed a quality product at a fair (if not favorable) price. From beginning to end the Liga Privada T52 has some wonderful peppery blasts mixed with a complex layering of flavors that is outstanding. The overall construction, appearance, burn, and strength are tough to beat... and all in all this cigar is a winner on multiple fronts. As I said earlier - you get what you pay for sometimes - and this is worth every penny. Kudos Drew Estate.
Score: 94



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Vegas High Primings Review




 Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.25

Appearance (0-20): The high primings look very similar to the classic line, except it sports a double band to signify the difference.  The medium brown wrapper seems to be darker than the classic, while this could be from the different leaves that are used.  Overall it was nice looking, yet nothing super catchy. 
Score: 16

Construction (0-20): The cigar was rolled quite nicely, with no seams or soft spots.  There was some tooth to the wrapper, which comes through on the light gray ash.  The ash held on for close to 2 inches, while also yielding a nice easy draw.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): This smoke is in the medium range for me, and was listed as medium-full.  They are pretty spot on with that assessment, depending on your nicotine tolerance.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): The beginning of the cigar starts off with some nice spiciness; nothing overpowering, but a very nice blend of flavors.  There are notes of vanilla sweetness and earthiness in the middle stages and some additional spice as you continue to smoke.  Overall the flavors definitely boom more than the classic, yet it seemed that it could use more complexity.
 
Score: 17

Value (0-20): Around $5.00, this stick provides some nice value.  For a medium bodied smoke with ample flavor, it was well marketed.  This is a great yard gar, 2nd smoke, or even first smoke to some.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with water

Overall (0-100): To me, the original 5 Vegas Classic was excellent, but the blend seems to have changed since then.  The High Primings definitely has nice bold flavors present, while it would benefit to have some complexity.  None the less, the cigar doesn’t fail in any one category for a $5.25 cigar.  Happy smoking.
Score:  85


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gurkha Archive Review


Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Honduras
Wrapper type: Connecticut
Filler / Binder: Nicaraguan, Dominican, & Cameroon
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.00


Appearance (0-20): Following the norm, Gurkha has its emblem embossed on its top label. The secondary black and gold band is one stating that this is the Limited Reserve, Archive 1887. The torpedo shape looks really nice on this, and I find I prefer it to the other sizes of this (the Toro and Churchill both have a smaller ring gauge). It’s well wrapped with a nicely colored leaf. The bottom reveals a nice chink of deep colored tobacco, which I can’t want to light up.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): Initial cut revealed nothing in terms of debris. The entirety of the cigar felt well packed, though the draw was a little bit tough. Post lighting the draw opened up a little but it still remained a little tight for its own good. A little surprisingly, the ashes held pretty well (1.5 inches in a clip) in spite of the flakey dark ash. The burn was cool, and thankfully no burn issues persisted.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20):  Medium to full. I don’t feel it that this one was that strong actually. The Archive sits at the medium range, though it does touch both the mild and full strengths.
Score: 16

Flavor (0-20): The first few puffs give some rich peppery spice to you, but before even hitting the 1 inch mark, the pepper fades to the background and slight sweetness and earthiness begin to take shape. The sweetness comes closer to the forefront of things, along with a slightly bitter coffee. There are some minor hints of chocolate and espresso in the second third, with some underlying pepper to back it up. The same sweetness and coffee remained prevalent through the final half of the cigar, though it didn’t really come out very complex besides those flavors.
Score: 17

Value (0-20): While I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this cigar, as it isn’t a huge bargain, it is still solid.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with a Guinness.

Overall (0-100):  There are some nice flavors in the Archive, with something akin to a sweet coffee that has some spice on the back end. It burns nice and cool, the ash holds relatively well, and it isn’t absurdly priced (relative to other Gurkha’s MSRPs). It was pretty much consistent from start to finish. That being said I don’t think I would go out of my way to find one of these since I prefer more complex cigars, and this isn’t it. After smoking it, I feel like I can honestly say “I don’t love it and I don’t hate it”. Still – it wasn’t too bad at all…
Score: 87

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Man O War Side Project: 52C




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Habano sun grown
Filler: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero
Length: 5”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.50


Appearance (0-20): The first thing you notice is the chisel shape.  The cigar has a 52 ring guage, and tapers down to a chisel point where the cap is.  The wrapper is a light brown habano, with no real flaws.  There are 2 bands around the cigar; the original Man o War label, along with an additional secondary label signifying the 52C side project.

Score: 17

Construction (0-20): A quick clip of the cap left no debris, and lighting was very easy.  The burn was razor sharp and smooth all the way down to the nub.  The chisel shape isn’t something that I am a fan of, mainly because it kind of dictates how much smoke you get.  This is the main reason that I don’t use a punch cut, because the smoke get funneled to a very small point.  Regardless of that fact, there was a decent amount of smoke on each draw.  The ash was a strong white color, without any flaking to notice.
Score:  17

Strength (0-20): The Cigars International website lists this as a full bodied smoke, and personally I feel like it missed that mark.  Medium to medium full at best, but the flavor profile was nice.  I generally don’t check the profile of the cigar until after I smoke it, so I will dock a few points since it didn’t hit its advertised strength.

Score: 16

Flavor (0-20): Right off the bat, there are strong flavors that can be generalized as “sweet.”  The sweetness gets very strong in the middle of the smoke, and they are very nicely done.  After the first inch or so, you will get notes of wood (oak and cedar), and some splashes of pepper and coffee near the end.  Aside from the strength profile, this cigar was a nice complex cigar that leaves you satisfied.  AJ Fernandez is definitely a master of the leaf when it comes to blending.

Score: 19

Value (0-20): Listed at about $9.00 for a single stick, it’s not terrible.  Then again in the same breath, I could list a lot of other cigars that I might pick up for the price and size.  While the cigar was on the smaller end, it did burn for close to 1.5hrs.

Score: 16

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck paired with water.

Overall (0-100): Hitting 85 on the rating scale can sometimes be deceiving.  85 is still a very respectable score.  The 52C is a great smoke, but price and strength really knocked it down.  If you go into the experience thinking that you will have a medium cigar that is very flavorful, you will be pleasantly surprised.  Couple that with finding a deal on them to subsidize the price, you really have a winner.  I will be reviewing the other Side Projects very soon (Little Devil and Phalanx). 
Score:  85