Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gurkha Grand Age Churchill

Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper type: Cameroon
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua & Peru
Length: 7.5”
Ring: 54
Cost: $7.00

Appearance (0-20): Like the majority of Gurkha cigars, their trademarked band sits up at the top, this time with some copper hues to it to blend with the Cameroon wrapper. Also as is customary of the Gurkha, the secondary band notes the name of the cigar: the Grand Age, which is shown in a black and gold. Personally I feel it’s a little of a clash with the first band and should have been integrated more appropriately. The actual tobacco itself has some nice coloration, though there are a few veins of note all along the stick. It’s somewhat inviting to see, but has some definite areas of improvement.
Score: 15


Construction (0-20): The initial feel of the cigar is one that’s decently well packed. There are a couple of areas that felt a little lacking, but I had hopes that it would pan out alright. As noted previously, a couple of larger veins run through this stick, which don’t help the scoring any. The initial cut has small amounts of debris, though nothing very excessive and the prelit draw was perfect. When lit, the burn was slightly uneven and the ash never maintained a consistent hold (sometimes 2 inches, sometimes ½ an inch) which points more to the tobacco not being distributed through the stick properly. I also had to touch up multiple times to try and keep it consistent. That itself can make you really dislike a cigar…
Score: 13

Strength (0-20):  Medium – and it sure is that. It has some heft, but sticks close to the strength it is slated at.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): Creamy and smooth… rich and earthy… and a lot of espresso-esque flavors. The Grand Age is almost buttery with how decadent the taste is, expertly weaving in cocoa and nuts with the backdrop of the earthy tobacco core. It’s really an awesome flavor profile, with slight complexity and a decent (though slight) pepper finish. Unfortunately there were many times where the transitions were less than clean.
Score: 17

Value (0-20): This is a nice size stick for the price of $7.00, but unfortunately as they say “size isn’t everything”. The flavors and strength are there, but the manufacturing of these wasn’t… and I say that after having 3 sticks. Each one had issues with the burn, appearance, etc.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck and paired with water.


Overall (0-100):  The Grand Age had the potential to do some really good things at a decent price, but it fell quite short in the process. It’s got the perfect medium strength to mix with the flavors of espresso and nuts (with an earth tobacco core), but it’s plagued with mediocre transitions and some sizable construction and appearance issues. For the same price there are a lot of other sticks I would choose besides this one, as it will mean not having to deal with the uncertainty that comes with smoking one of these. When they are on, they really are great… but when they are off, it’s one of the more frustrating cigars I have smoked.
Score: 78





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ramon Bueso’s “Genesis The Project” Review


Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Honduras
Wrapper type: Habano Connecticut Maduro
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua and Honduras
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $5.50

As a quick backstory to this cigar – At Cigarfest 2012 there were a bevy of yellow street sign like stickers that asked “Who is Ramon Bueso?” with a date on them of 07.05.12. The sticker included this website along with it. In the meanderings through the different tables, we found that Ramon Bueso was there, and his cigar – “Genesis The Project” was being given out.


Appearance (0-20): The Project has a gorgeous deep maduro wrapper that looked and even felt a bit oily to the touch. It was impressive right off the bat, using two different bands – one along the top in shades of grey, black, and white which called out the cigar as Ramon Bueso’s “The Project”, with the other being black with white writing, noting the 07.05.12 date. The wrapper sported no major visible veins, and it really took some sleuthing to even find a couple of minor ones.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): The sleek exterior felt very well packed. Testing various parts of the cigar yielded no areas of concern at all. The foot had some nice ligero, but it was well dispersed. The cut was near perfection, with very little excess debris. More impressive yet was the draw, which was also nearly perfect. This, for lack of better words, burned cool down to the nub while staying almost perfectly even when burning. I’m going to immediately apologize for not snapping more pictures of the process, as the ash held on for half of the cigar each time. Due to smoking this outside around midnight, I couldn’t get a great picture.
Score: 19

Strength (0-20):  Since there is little in terms of where this should sit, I had to rate it against the flavor and complexity to strength. Needless to say, it’s very well balanced with the other characteristics, hanging out in the medium range.
Score: 18


Flavor (0-20): It’s absurd to think that this cigar could get much better than the billing from the notes above, but the flavor is incredible. It begins with some nice peppery spice, but is counterbalanced by a sweetness that is akin to black licorice. Smooth spices fade in, dropping the pepper back a bit when you hit the one inch mark but it retains the sweet licorice. The spice that continues to meld in is one of nutmeg with a very distinctive woody flavor. Slight nutty flavors are intermingled around the halfway point, blending almost perfectly. In the last third there is a move away from the former flavors, where it transitions into a coffee with cream taste. The complexity is nearly perfect while staying very well balanced. The flavors work together completely.
Score: 20


Value (0-20): At $5.50 this is a steal of a cigar. Box prices at the moment (since it is prerelease pricing) have this slated at $4 for this size. It is easily a cigar people would pay double or even more likely triple for. available at Cigars International
Score: 20

Additional Notes: Smoked at my dad’s lake house, paired with coffee.

Overall (0-100): When smoking and reviewing this cigar, it was really tough to take away points. The reality is I was nitpicking and it still scored outstandingly.  While the cigar isn’t perfect, the pricepoint is amazing for the flavors, complexity, strength, etc. Factor in that the flavors of this are very distinct and harmonious, and you have a home run of a cigar on your hands. At its current presale price, I would venture to say this isn’t just box worthy, but instead it’s multiple box worthy. Genesis The Project could easily be compared to the Liga Privada No. 9, with a cheaper price… which is alluring. I personally am having a hard time not dropping the cash on a box right now, even though my humidor is nearly full. If I had to make a prediction, this may very well be the next cigar that becomes hard to find very very quicky, as anyone who I have talked to that smoked it can’t stop raving about it and many have already preordered multiple boxes. I would recommend getting your hands on some of these before either the price jumps up or this becomes akin to the Liga Privada Flying Feral Pig with little chance of seeing one in the wild.
Score: 96



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sosa Vintage Review




 Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper origin: Connecticut
Wrapper type: Connecticut
Filler: Dominican
Length: 6”
Ring: 50
Cost: $7.25

Appearance (0-20): The Sosa Vintage sports a pretty catchy cigar band.  There are a multitude of colors that are incorporated, along with various embossing and detail work.  If this craftsmanship on the band goes into the cigar as well, then we will have a homerun.  The light brown wrapper has multiple longer veins which are some cause for concern.  Nonetheless, the cigar is eye catching from afar.

Score: 18

Construction (0-20): While the large veins were worrisome, they really gave no problems except aesthetics.  The ash was a beautiful white tone, and held on for about 1.5 inches.  Unfortunately, the burn was very wavy and required multiple touch ups.

Score: 16
 
Strength (0-20): Listed at medium bodied, I would have to say no way.  Mild would probably be a better assessment, possibly mild-medium for some novice smokers.

Score: 15

Flavor (0-20): Well if you’re looking for complexity, you can walk away now.  The stick holds the same flavors from start to finish, and the present flavors weren’t very robust either.  Some people will be fine by this, but that is a big “No-no” for me.  If you want to have consistent notes, they better be bold and flavorful to make up for the lack of complexity.  As for tasting notes, you will encounter nuts, sweetness, but there is an overall grassy/papery taste.

Score: 13

Value (0-20): Right around the $7 mark, there are way too many cigars that could be picked.  Couple that with the other poor factors; I think this was another miss.

Score: 13

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with coffee

Overall (0-100): While I was optimistic as I picked up this stick, the saying is actually true for this cigar; “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  There were various issues with this cigar, but the flavor profile just wasn’t there.  I am more than happy with a cigar that only has a few flavor notes, but they need to really knock me off my feet.  Unfortunately, this did none of that.

Score:  75


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pinolero by AJ Fernandez Review


 

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper type: Sun-Grown
Filler: Cuban Seed Nicaraguan & Fernandez Family Secret
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.25

Appearance (0-20): This new AJ Fernandez stick is something different for him in the appearance department.  Man O War and Ave Maria are two notable cigar lines that have show off an elegant band that makes you want to pick up the stick and buy it right away.  The Pinolero seems as if AJ is getting back to his roots with this rustic looking cigar and band.  The toothy light brown sun-grown wrapper has no physical blemishes, and is rolled together with a pig-tail type of cap.  While all of these are not a bad thing, they are just different from the status quo.

Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Time and time again, every blend that I smoke from the Fernandez line has excellent construction. The Pinolero fits the bill, and burns very well also.  While smoking, the cigar did start to burn uneven but quickly straightened itself out.  I have yet to find an AJ smoke that was poorly constructed, and that just goes to show the level of craftsmanship and quality control that he employs.  Burn, draw, ash, and overall smoke is well done again.

Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Medium-full, and somewhat reminiscent of the Ave Maria line for me. Pretty spot on with the strength marketing.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Now this could be that I was reading while smoking this stick, but I really didn’t get the complexity that the cigar is supposed to have.  I’ll smoke another and give an update, but somewhat disappointed.  Although it wasn’t super complex, it was quite flavorful and balanced.  Strong notes of cedar come through, with various degrees of sweetness intertwined.  There are also some dashed of spice and earthiness, but I felt as though they never fully came around. Consistent, not complex, and somewhatleft wanting more.

Score: 16



Value (0-20): Sitting around $8.00 for a toro size at Cigars International, I think that is fairly priced.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck, paired with seltzer water.

Overall (0-100): While the cigar still scored well overall, I personally was let down by this new AJ smoke.  The cigar was constructed well and burned well, yet it seemed to be lacking complexity for me.  For roughly the same price, I would throw my money towards a San Lotano Oval and get a super complex cigar. Look for a re-visited score in the future.

Score:  86


Monday, October 22, 2012

Black Crown Robusto Review


Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Habana 2000
Filler / Binder: Caribbean Basin Cuban Seed, Honduras, Nicaragua
Size: 5” x 52
Cost: $4.60



Appearance (0-20):
Lyricsninja: A simple black and white band adorns a very nice looking Colorado colored wrapper. On the front of the band is a sketchy black crown, and the words “Black Crown” are printed on the back. The simplicity in both the design and coloration works perfectly. The wrapper itself has a decent sized vein in it, but otherwise everything is very well done. Simple, but well done.  Score: 18/20
Kollarism: The Black Crown is a new cigar to the scene, and makes it presence known.  The medium-brown wrapper has a very nice marbling in the leaf.  Physically there are no blemishes, and everything comes together well.  With the introductory smoke, the band is simple and artistic in the use of grays, whites, and blacks.  While I enjoyed the band, I still think that it needs to be catchier for a new brand.  Points off for the banding/marketing, but definitely not the cigar as a whole. Score: 16/20

Construction (0-20):
Lyricsninja: The medium sized vein along the outside gave me some worry, but the entirety of the cigar felt rather well packed. The cut revealed only a small amount of debris, and the prelight draw was nearly perfect. After lighting up, there was no time where a relight was needed, nor was there any need to touch this one up. The burn was nearly even throughout, with just some slight deviations as I progressed through.  Score: 17/20
Kollarism: The cigar itself was rolled well, and featured no soft spots.  The cap clipped off easily, leaving very little debris.  Drawing out smoke was quite easy, and gave off ample amounts of smooth gray smoke.  I was required to give a small touch up to keep it burning even, but nothing too substantial. Score: 17/20

Strength (0-20):
Lyricsninja: Medium to full, which is consistent with its billing. It began more in the medium end, eventually nearly hitting full, thought I wouldn’t say it ever gets there. If anything it’s a strong medium cigar overall. Score: 18/20
Kollarism: Medium-full is probably an accurate assessment, while I would move it closer to medium on that scale.  This is very well rounded, and quite a complex smoke when you get to its flavors. Score: 18/20

Flavor (0-20):
Lyricsninja: The Black Crown seems to shine most in the flavor area of the review. Right off the bat there’s some rich woodsy flavors mixed with a roasted nut of some sort. Background flavors dance lightly in the back and slowly come to the forefront as time goes on – earthy tastes, wine, some small amount of chocolate… and on the retrohale (especially in the second half of the cigar) is pepper. It’s really interesting to taste the progression of this stick as the transitions between flavors are nearly seamless and the combination of flavors, for lack of better words, just plain old works. Score: 19/20
Kollarism: If you want a complex smoke, look no further.  Featuring 7 different types of tobacco, you will encounter a multitude of flavors throughout the smoke.  Initially I was greeted with a blast of some spice with woody-cedar notes.  As you progress towards the second third of the cigar, you will be left amazed with the amount of flavors in this unknown cigar thus far.  There are notes a sweet cocoa, dashes of spicy pepper, rich oak and cedar, and a few other indistinguishable flavors.  Medium in strength, but full in flavor is a great combination. Score: 19/20

Value (0-20):
Lyricsninja: The top prices come from Cigars International, the kings randsom pack on Cigar.com, and of course cbid. But at under $5, this cigar may end up being a diamond in the rough. As the sizes progress, it goes up to around a $7 pricepoint which still wouldn’t be bad for this. For the robusto in particular, under $4.75 is well worth it.  Score: 19/20
Kollarism: Right around $4.50 for the robusto, this quickly becomes a top sub $5 cigar for me.  Similar to the Ramon Bueso Genesis, this unknown cigar will soon take off and become a well known name. Score: 19/20

Additional Notes:
Lyricsninja: Smoked at CI and paired with water.
Kollarism: Smoked outside around a campfire.

Overall (0-100):
Lyricsninja: There seems to be some mystery around this cigar and where it’s come from. For sure, it is coming out of the Raices Cubanas factory… but who is having them produce it? If you do enough searching around at trademark names, you can likely figure out who owns the “Black Crown” name. But regardless of who owns it… it’s a good choice of cigar. Currently the price sits below $5 for the robusto size, where I can attest to some interesting and rather unique flavor combinations. There were no major issues in the other areas on this cigar, and really it was just some minor qualms I pointed out earlier (slightly uneven burn, a medium sized vein, strength slightly lower than anticipated). But in spite of those small issues, I find myself wanting more of these, and will likely even pick up some in varying sizes to see how the complexity pans out in a larger (or smaller) stick.  Score: 91/100
Kollarism:  As stated before, this cigar will go from unknown to well-known very quickly.  Definitely not a knock my socks off cigar, but this is a very nice go-to smoke that will give the price-conscience a sigh of relief.  This is a great smoke that a beginner and an expert can both enjoy, and find subtle nuances.  Welcome the Black Crown to the cigar arena!  Score: 89/100

Both of us have agreed that this cigar hits right around the 90 range. Its complex and interesting for a good price and should become a known entity soon enough… give them a try before too many people get their hands on em!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Man O’ War Side Project: Little Devil


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Sun Grown Habano
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.5”
Ring: 44
Cost: $5.00



Appearance (0-20): The Little Devil really is a small cigar, given that it is only a 44 ring gauge, and just 5.5 inches in length. The tobacco color is nice and dark for the sun grown tobaccos, with the normal primary Man O’ War band with a secondary band that labels this the Little Devil. The wrapper itself some bubbles where the below leaves have veins, so there is slight cause for concern. The end is actually pigtailed off. Nice look, though some small issues.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): As noted in the appearance section, the small ridge gave me some slight concern. Thankfully, the remainder of the cigar looks and feels absolutely perfect. The cut revealed a little more debris than normal, but not so much that it was hazardous. The draw was nearly perfect pre-light, and continued to be great throughout. The ash held to the two inch mark before teetering off. The smoke coming off also was superb with huge thick plumes.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  Listed as medium to full, I think it does indeed his that mark pretty well. There is a lot of kick in the cigar, but it’s tempered by some of the other flavors.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): When lighting up you are immediately going to be struck by a peppery blast from both the normal inhale and the retrohale – which is of course why it’s such a “Little Devil”. There are some wonderful flavors that show through this from an earthy core that drapes cocoa against it… but on the backend there is always a nice heavy pepper backing. When moving throughout there are some leather and woodsy flavors that replace the cocoa, and it eventually has some delicate sweetness and cinnamon spice. The stick is on the complex side of things, but there is always a pepper backing to create a really interesting counter.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): Although for $5.00 this is a smaller cigar, the intense flavor and heavy smoke allow this one to stay in the positive realm of valuation.
Score: 18


Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International, paired with water, while reading Fidel Castro’s autobiography.

Overall (0-100):  The Man O’ War side projects have given some interesting designs (52-c) and tastes (Little Devil) instead of the normal Man O’ War line. This particular one lives up to its name though in terms of both complexity and spice. The basic gist: it’s got nice complexity for such a small stick, but packs the power of some larger ones. The pepper blasts are huge and pronounced, but seem to be balanced very well otherwise. Some small construction issues exist, though the price is right… give this one a try, but be prepared for it to be a “Little Devil”.
Score: 89


Thursday, October 4, 2012

CAO MX2 Belicoso



Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Connecticut
Wrapper type: Broadleaf
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Peru, Honduras
Length: 7”
Ring: 56
Cost: $6.00

Appearance (0-20): A rich, dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper couples with a silver and black label to give a very nice first look. The tobacco itself feels oily to the touch and I cant wait to give this one a whirl. The foot of the MX2has an interesting looking mix of filler and binder tobaccos, ranging from deep brown colors to slight tans.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): No worries from the get-go as there is hardly a vein of note on the outside of the wrapper to see. The feel I your hand is perfect, and rolling along the cigar reveals an almost completely even feel – no tobacco out of place. The first cut left a bit more tobacco debris than I was hoping for, and it put me into a mindset that was one of worry and concern, but thankfully it wasn’t an indication of how the rest of the cigar would be. The draw was perfect, and the burn was almost spot on. I had no times where I needed to relight or touch things up, and it held its ash for over an inch and a half at a clip.
Score: 19


Strength (0-20):  While I have seen this run the scale from medium through full, I don’t know where I would place it. Having smoked many of these, it’s hard to know what to expect when it lacks the consistency in its strength.  
Score: 15

Flavor (0-20): Complexity seems to be the name of the game in this cigar (at times), which is likely due to the mixture of binder / fillers in this. When you hit those points, it’s a pleasant juxtaposition going on between spicy and sweet. It’s a very smooth cigar that billows thick smoke that tends toward a spicy and peppery realm with hints coffee and rich tobacco tastes. But at the same time I found lulls where it felt like it was missing something. It was almost as if the MX2’s transitions were way too long when moving from one subset of tobacco to the next. For every wonderful point, I felt there was a negative, so it was a bittersweet experience for me. Unfortunately, again, consistency was a problem.
Score: 15

Value (0-20): A $6.00 price isn’t obtrusive at all, but the lack of consistency I’ve found in this line could be either a blessing or a curse.
Score: 16

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International, paired with water.



Overall (0-100):  It is really tough to give a great rating to a cigar that I have found so inconsistent. When it’s bad, it’s a mediocre cigar at a $6.00 price. When it’s on though, the MX2 has the capacity to be a wonderfully complex bargain of a cigar. After having 6 of these to make my assessment, it was a clear split between the two ends of the spectrum. But no matter the cigar – the construction and appearance were always just fine. So the real question becomes: do you want to play a $6 game of Russian roulette? If it were me personally, I’d pass on this one as I prefer to know what I’m buying (especially given that there are so many other consistent cigars in this dollar range, or less for that matter).
Score: 84