Thursday, January 31, 2013

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Mexico
Wrapper type: Mexican San Andres Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua
Length: 5.25"
Ring: 56
Cost: $7.25

Appearance (0-20): There is always something that draw me to a deep brown maduro wrapper; it almost makes you salivate.  The Mi Amor has that, and it almost incorporates a marbling complexion upon further inspection of the wrapper.  Looking at the foot, you'll notice multiple shades of tobacco filling it, all which give off great aromas.  The band as usual is very intricate, using a multitude of colors and embossing for a more lavish look.

Score: 19

Construction (0-20):  
No real issues on the pre light; wrapper comes well together with no seams, no veins are prominent, and there was no debris from clipping the cap.  The draw was excellent, and yielded very thick gray smoke.  The ash held on nice and solid, and burned cool right on down to the nub.


Score: 18

Strength (0-20): I haven't smoked a LADC in quite some time, and this little guy packs a punch.  I really didn't notice it during most of the smoke, but closer to the end the strength hit me.  I would say its very close to full strength, complimented with full flavor.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20):  What an excellent cigar.  The cocoa sweetness was the overwhelming flavor throughout.  It's almost like a dessert smoke due to its richness.  There are some other undertones of woods and earth, with some type of fruity sweetness sprinkled in.  I personally thought the blend was very well done, and am quite anxious to see how the Mi Amor Reserve compares to it.

Score: 19

Value (0-20): While $7.25 is a fair price for the smoke, it wasn't a "go buy a box" price for me.  If the prices are similar in a larger vitola, then it might be creeping closer to box territory.


Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International

Overall (0-100):  Every time that I smoke one of these, I am definitely satisfied.  The flavors meld well together, and I've only had positive experiences with it.  While not super complex overall, the flavors that are present are full and robust. A fine, quality cigar!


Score: 91

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades



Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 6.25”
Ring: 50
Cost: $11.00


Appearance (0-20): The Viaje Honey and Hand Gernades (HHG) is really tough to miss. With a rich red foil wrapper encasing the cigar, it immediately draws the eye to this stick. But along the top of the foil area is a band that sports an almost industrial symbol (something like a biohazard sign) with a bee at its center, however the body of the bee is a hand grenade. Turning the band, you find the name on its side, “Honey & Hand Gernades”. Upon removing the foil, you are greeted with a nice deep Criollo wrapper that is in perfect condition. The shape is a bit different, with a rounded cap… but a pointed foot instead. No veins of note at all on this one, either. From top to bottom, the HHG looks amazing.
Score: 20


Construction (0-20): From an initial feel standpoint, there is nothing to worry about with the HHG. The cigar has a very solid feel when pertaining to the tobacco inside it, but it has almost a spongy consistency. The wrapper feels extremely silky and to be honest… it really is gorgeous. There is a pinhole in the cap (that I have heard people question multiple times). It kind of fits the whole mystique of the honeybee aspect of things, as if this was just one of the stings from it. This, of course, isn’t the first time that Viaje has used the pinhole approach. It serves a dual purpose – it helps the tobaccos to dry as well as allowing you to use that instead of cutting the cigar. With that in mind, I lit up this stogie using the pinhole. The HHG lit up easily and burned decently evenly throughout. The draw was surprisingly good for just the pinhole approach. The only mishap occurred within the first 2 inches where the cigar burned a bit hot up the wrapper. Aside from that, the construction was spot on and it held the ash for 2+ inches at a time.
Score: 18
 
Strength (0-20): Medium to Full. I found this to begin at the lower end of the medium spectrum, and it slowly builds up to where it hits the full range… though not until the final third. It hits its intended mark.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Dark chocolate and wood dominate the first third of the cigar with pepper on the retrohale. There is a little bit of other spice to note, but it’s just a backdrop to the others. There’s also a very fresh blast of flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on to begin with, but as it progressed it became a floral element. There’s a twist of a bit of bitterness, much like you get with a strong coffee. The HHG balances nicely with the sweet chocolate and bitter flavors coming through. In addition to all of that, there are hints of leather and some other hefty tobacco tones. The final third continues with the same flavors, though it is much sweeter and absolutely much stronger. The blend has a nice amount of complexity with a balance between bitter and sweet.

One major thing to note before I close out the flavor section… I chose to smoke this using the pinhole. At around the halfway point, I began to get a really bitter taste. I knew something was up, but continued to give it a moment to pan out. It didn’t. IT was easy to recognize the issue since I am also a pipe smoker – the taste of tar. Taking a look at the cap, you can see that the small airway path actually clogged the tar’s normal path, resulting in a really offensive taste. My recommendation – snip the cigar. As such, I’m giving this flavor area two separate scores – one for the pinhole approach, and one for a normal cut.
Pinhole Score: 13
Normal Cut Score: 18


Value (0-20): The novelty of the Viaje HHG may be enough to warrant spending the $11.00, but once you get past it – it’s worth the price.
Score: 18

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


Overall (0-100):  This cigar is getting two distinct scores, due to the pinhole versus normal cut debate. But regardless of that score differential, you will find this to be both an interesting and engaging cigar. The appearance is enough you have you wondering what it has up its sleeve, but the tastes will be enough to keep you enjoying it. The bitter coffee taste is balanced by the sweetness of a dark chocolate, with supporting undertones of wood, something floral, and some decent pepper spikes. The construction is superb, minus of course the question of the pinhole. And the price is right on the money for something with a limited run, a great look, and really well woven tastes. If you are looking for a recommendation – go with the normal cut score (and cut it, trust me, its worth it).
Pinhole Score: 87
Normal Cut Score: 92

Hispaniola Cigars Announces the Release of Turei Cigars

The news of the day is that recently Hispaniola Cigars announced they are releasing Turei Cigars. Below is the press release on the cigars, as well as some additional information on the company. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to give these a try in the near future...





Hispaniola Cigars Announces the Release of Turei Cigars
Heaven on Earth
January 21st, 2013The Taino aborigines of the Dominican Republic attributed spiritual qualities to smoking tobacco during their ancient rituals. It was believed that smoking the tobacco leaf would elevate them to "Turei," translated literally as "Heaven." Hispaniola Cigars is proud to announce that in January 2013, the spiritual experience of the Tainos will be resurrected by Turei Cigars.

After a series of complex trials and broad acceptance at IPCPR 2012, Hugo F. Melo, a fourth generation master blender and President of Hispaniola Cigars, decided the time was right to release Turei.
The Turei line includes three Dominican puro blends, each offered in a single vitola. The blends feature four-year aged tobaccos to deliver maximum complexity and flavor.

About the blends:
Turei Puro Sol #1: Belicoso (54 x 4.75)
Turei Puro Sol #2: Robusto (54 x 5.25)
Turei Puro Sol #3: Toro (52 x 6)

Turei blends deliver a broad spectrum of flavor experiences, from medium bodied floral and roasted coffee notes to full bodied profiles with light pepper, dark cocoa, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Melo described naming the new line saying, “The cigars needed a name intrinsically connected to the sensation produced during the experience. In that regard, we believe ‘Turei’ to be fitting.”
The release of the Turei line follows on the heels of the immensely popular offerings from Hispaniola Cigars, which Melo launched in 2002. "We created Hispaniola cigars specifically to honor our friends in the brick and mortar market and to serve as our flagship product," Melo said. "We hope that Turei will be accepted with similar enthusiasm by smokers in the online and catalog market."
The new Turei line will be available through major distributors starting January 21st. Retail price for the new Turei line will range between $7 and $8.

About Hispaniola Cigars
For over four generations the Melo and Matos families have been one of the largest producers of the finest organic coffee and aged tobacco in the Dominican Republic, focusing in exportation of coffee as well as supplying some of the largest fine cigar distributors and importers in the Dominican Republic with aged cured tobacco.

In 2002, H. F. Melo, a fourth generation tobacco and coffee master blender, launched the Hispaniola brand to a selective market segment. The launch served as a springboard for other cigars within the distinctive Hispaniola portfolio.
CONTACT

email: info@hispaniolacigars.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tatuaje The Mummy




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Sun Grown Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 7.75”
Ring: 47
Cost: $13.00

Appearance (0-20): As usual with the monster series cigars, and Tatuaje cigars in general, there is nothing overly flashy.  The wrapper used is a light brown criollo, and looks to be very thin.  The wrapper did have a decent size crack, which wasn't from any humidification issues.  Being a light wrapper, there are a good amount of veins that are visible.  The cigar itself is very long, and also sports a closed foot that makes lighting it up nice and easy.

Score: 17

Construction (0-20):
 As usual with a longer cigar, the draw was nice and cool.  It did burn hot as you smoke down towards the end, but the overall experience was very well done.  I might have smoked it quicker than normal, but it still lasted about 1.25 hours.  The ash held on between 1 and 3 inches, and coiled nicely.  The crack in the wrapper caused the cigar to burn a bit uneven and shrivel on one side, but it was easily fixed with a quick burn of the torch lighter.


Score: 17

Strength (0-20): The Mummy hits around the medium range.  There is a good blend of strength and flavor, that really balance each other out well.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Initially there is a quick blast of spice, that moves right into strong notes of wood.  During the entire smoke, you will always taste some form of spice; some points being stronger than others.  The notes of wood intertwine with hay, and some subtle cream and sweet flavors.  The blending of spice, sweet, and cream were very enjoyable and at no point did they become boring.  I didn't feel like the cigar was overly complex, but it definitely was blended well.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): $13.00 seems like a stretch for me, and it could be more of a limited production price point.


Score: 16

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International

Overall (0-100): This was only the second Monster series cigar that I've smoked, the Wolfman being the other, and had it's ups and downs.  The Mummy was one of those cigars that was good to have once, but I don't think that I would go back to it at the $13 price point.  Lucky we live in a strong cigar boom, which gives cigar enthusiasts access to hundreds of cigars are great prices.  While I enjoy many other Tatuaje's and I wasn't disappointed, the Mummy won't be too memorable for me.


Score: 86

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pueblo Dominicano


Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler / Binder: Dominican Republic
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $7.00




Appearance (0-20): The Pueblo comes with a nice, slightly oily wrapper and a simple tan and brown band. The band nearly melds into the cigar with how seamlessly it matches. The wrapper also has a nice sheen to it, and I noticed a bit of plume beginning to form. Aside from there being some small veins that can be seen, there was nothing too troubling. It’s not one that may completely grab your eyes from afar, but it still is nice enough when you pick one up.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Speaking of picking this up, it has a nice firmness to the wrapper but it still squishy enough that you don’t feel like you are going to crack it from a slight squeeze. The cigar feels pretty well balanced, with no gaps of note. The initial snip revealed a bit of debris, though it wasn't an excessive amount. The draw was slightly tight, but opened up upon the initial puffs. The burn remained close to straight through the entire stick, with one small touch up, and the ash held for 2 inches in a clip.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  Being pushed as a full strength cigar, I would say it falls just short of being power packed from start to finish. Medium to full to begin, it quickly moves into the full range and never looks back. Very very close, but not spot on.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): Welcome to yet another AJ Fernandez blend. It shines in the flavor department, per the usual, with very interesting complexity. To start things off there’s an earthy flavor that is complimented by cedar and a rich creamy coffee.  The coffee begins to take a slightly bitter flavor on (in a good way) as it mixes with a sweet chocolate and deep tobacco flavoring. Once you hit the final third, I felt like it transitioned back to the original flavors with the cedar and earthiness taking precedence.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): The $7.00 price isn't terrible given some of the above ratings, though it’s close to the price of a lot of really solid smokes. Granted a box price would bring this down to $5.00, or alternately cigarbid where the price of a 5 pack goes for between $7 and $17.
Score: 17
 
Additional Notes: Smoked outdoors at by the fire, paired with water.

Overall (0-100):  There are a lot of things to like about the Pueblo Dominicano in a robusto size. It’s packed with a hard hitting strength, has some wonderful flavors that meld well together (earth, cedar, coffee, chocolate), and the transitions between flavors are extremely seamless. It may not be the prettiest girl at the prom, but she has a natural beauty you can’t deny, and you feel if she got all dolled up she would be a knockout. Some small issues (a retouch here, slightly inflated price there) keep this from breaking the 90 point barrier, but it would easily top it at a couple of bucks less. AJ Fernandez put out a fantastic cigar that is worth giving a try. If nothing else, it’s a highly above average everyday sort of cigar.
Score: 88

Friday, January 18, 2013

San Lotano Oval




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Ecuadoran Habano 
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduran
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 54
Cost: $8.00

Appearance (0-20): The first thing that you would immediately notice is the shape of the cigar. Its a somewhat cross between a box press and classic shaped cigar. One thing that my uncle mentioned is how these age. He bought a box, and they were quite flat/rectangle shaped. He let them sit in his humidor and they puffed up into the oval shape. Pretty neat. Anyway, the cigar itself looks very inviting. The wrapper is very grainy, and rolled perfectly. It is donned with a beautiful band, that has excellent complimenting colors. Black and gold always work well together, coupled with yellow and red.


Score: 18

Construction (0-20):
The draw on this was superb, even though it was very well packed. The cap clipped off easily, with no debris at all. As mentioned earlier, the cigar was rolled perfectly. This really left for an enjoyable smoking experience, not needing to worry about any draw or burn issues. The ash held on for close to 1.5 inches, and was a coiling white ash. Construction can absolutely ruin a cigar, but this one hits very high on the scale.


Score: 19
Strength (0-20): Listed as a full smoke, you will probably feel it. Even an experienced smoker will be hit with a medium-full experience, and full for many others. The great thing is that the flavor was excellent as well.

Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): If you've never smoked anything created by AJ Fernandez, then you are simply doing yourself a disservice. He is one of the best cigar blenders on the market today, and this is a perfect example of why. The Oval itself is not super complex, but all of the flavors are robust and meld so well together. Spice and cocoa balance themselves throughout the whole smoke, while adding in a nice bit of creaminess. The original San Lotano (non-Oval) was much better in the habano wrapper, as opposed to the maduro. I haven't smoked the Oval maduro yet, but I feel the wrapper might take away from some of the flavors in the filler. Either way, I don't think that you can go wrong with an AJ smoke.


Score: 18
Value (0-20): Just about all of AJ's cigars are very well priced for the sizes they come in. Quite possibly a box worthy cigar.


Score: 18

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International, paired with seltzer

Overall (0-100): Par for the course, AJ produces another solid cigar. I can honestly say that I have never smoked a cigar of his that I hated, except I wasn't a huge fan of the Pinolero. Some are better than others, but just about all over them are great. For one manufacturer his is way ahead of anyone else in my opinion. The San Lotano Oval is an excellent line of cigars, and hits high on eve single point scale. Grab at least one if you haven't already; if you have, go grab another one!


Score: 92

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Man O’ War Side Project: Phalanx


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 56
Cost: $9.00



Appearance (0-20): AJ Fernandez works his normal magic, utilizing the Man O’ War line to its fullest – complete with the normal Man O’ War band and a matching one that proclaims this “Side Project: Phalanx”. With this impressive 6.5”x56 you have all the workings of a big beefy stick right off the bat. Wonderfully dark and inviting, with only small veins along it and a small simple of tobacco, this has the promise of being something good.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): The initial cut on this one revealed no residue whatsoever. Taking in the prelit draw though, was a little on the tougher end. Lighting the Phalanx up was no problem, but unfortunately the draw remained slightly tight through most of the smoke. While it wasn’t a detriment, it was a slight annoyance and pulled down the experience a bit. The burn was cool throughout, but it had a slight pull to one side, thus keeping it from being completely even. The ash held on for almost 2 inches at a time, which helps to explain some of that tightness in the draw department.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20):  Medium to Full. For the most part I would agree with the assessment as it has some real power behind it. I felt like it deviated back and forth between strengths quite a bit, never really settling on one specific side.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Breaking down this stick is tough, since there is a lot going on in it. The most prevalent flavors are cedar, leather, and cocoa with a lot of pepper on the retrohale. The main flavors are sustained throughout the entire smoke, just with varying degrees of strength. In addition to this, there are some wonderful undertones of nuts, coffee, and earth. Again they seem to intermingle at varying points, though none stayed around for long. I would tag this as being moderately complex, but it still has the simple backdrop that should please most cigar smokers.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): The pricing feels pretty good in comparison to other Man O’ War lines (and other things in the industry). Though it isnt an absolute bargain either. If purchased in a 5 pack or box, it drops to as low as $6.75 a stick... which would be a better bargain.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked outdoors at my brother’s house, paired with water.

Overall (0-100):  Looking back at some of the other Man O’ War cigars that we have smoked and reviewed, this one sits in the 4th slot out of 5. But that doesn’t mean this is a dog of a cigar by any means… it simply means that we found the others to be just a hair better in different areas. It’s got some tremendous flavors of cedar, pepper, leather, and cocoa and wonderful undertones to match its strength. It did fall a slight bit short in the value and construction areas, but not by much. It’s a solid cigar with a lot of upside to it, and absolutely worth smoking at least once.
Score: 88


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cuenca y Blanco





Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Ecuador
Wrapper type: Ecuadoran Habano 
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peru
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 44
Cost: $7.60


Appearance (0-20): The initial impression is nothing too flashy.  The Cuenca sports a light brown habano wrapper, that shows a few veins.  The band is also fairly simple, with nothing too extravagant to set it aside from anything else.  Its one of those cigars that I would pass by if I didn't know it was  Joya de Nic product. The band has a few complimenting colors that meld well together, but it would be nice to give it some more distinction.


Score: 16

Construction (0-20): Before lighting the cigar, it felt very tightly packed.  Unfortunately, this led to a disastrous experience for me.  I tried a few things to get the cigar to loosen up, but the draw was terrible.  I've read some other reviews that has no issues, but mine was terribly plugged.  The draw was so tight that I could barely get any smoke, and it was cumbersome just to smoke to the halfway point.  At this point, I was pretty fed up.  I pulled a huge leaf out of the cigar, that was accompanied by a nice large tobacco stem.  Aside from the draw issue, the burn and ash seemed to have no issues.


Score: 13

Strength (0-20):  This one sits in the medium range, maybe a tad under.  Then again, I wasn't able to smoke the full stick so it may be a bit higher.


Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): The amount of smoke that I was able to draw, was pleasant. While not overly complex, the flavors were sweet and creamy.  The wrapper probably added to that fact, yet it was quite thin.  While trying to get some addition smoke near the cap of the cigar, it cracked fairly easily.  Regardless of its flaws, it was a flavorful smoke that was quite relaxing.


Score: 17

Value (0-20): Hopefully the draw was an anomaly  but the price seems to be fair all things considered.  There are a lot of smokes in the price range, so I think its in the middle of the pack.

Score: 17

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

Overall (0-100): Seems like I got a bad smoke, and it's kind of unfair to rate it because of that.  I would like to smoke it again to revisit the score at some point.  I've read some other reviews that seemed to give it pretty nice scores, which may attribute to why I was let down.  Please take this review, like all others, with a grain of salt.  It basically lost points everywhere because of the bad draw, which wasn't able to give me the full flavors and strength of the cigar.  

Score:  80


Monday, January 7, 2013

Garo Habano Vintage


Information:
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.40

 
Appearance (0-20): The Vintage follows the same path as the Garo Double Habano, using simple designs for their bands, although these are in a cream and black instead of the norm. It may not be the most eloquent, but it works. The habano wrapper looks pretty solid, although there are some minor veins of note. Its wrapped well regardless. Overall it’s pretty inviting.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): The cigar felt solid from top to bottom with no causes for concern at all. The wrapper was just the right softness, and with a quick snip of the end it revealed little debris. It lit up easily and burned relatively evenly throughout the entirety of the stick. Ashes held for over 1.5 inches at a time.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20):  Listed as medium, it hits the nail on the head. From beginning to end it consistently sticks in the correct spot with little variation away.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): The flavor profile is extremely solid throughout, but therein lies the problem too. It has a very nice cedar taste that melds well with a rich coffee flavor. There are some additional spices in the background though none are very predominant. Upon retrohale, a fair amount of pepper is there… not overwhelming, but it is noticeable. The real issue is that I found the taste to be one dimensional. There is nearly no variation of flavors through the stick. The flavor is good, and well pronounced, but it lacks excitement. Given that it is indeed a good combination of flavors, i cant knock it too much, however, I also am always looking for a more complex smoke. 
Score: 14

Value (0-20): The value on this one just isn’t there... Especially considering the Garo Double Habano of nearly the same size, can be purchased for $2.00 per stick in a bundle.
Score: 12

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

Overall (0-100):  The original Garo Double Habano is a really decent smoke for a cheap everyday kind of price. The Vintage, unfortunately, does not fit the same mold. Retailing at over $8.00 per stick, there just isn’t enough to love about this cigar to invest the money into it. While the flavors of coffee and cedar are pleasing, it’s extremely one dimensional and unexciting. On the positive side, it is well constructed and falls smack dab in the middle of the medium strength category. Still, I would recommend picking up 4 of the Garo Double Habanos over this one for the same price. If I was handed this smoke, I wouldn’t toss it out… I would just save it for a time that I didn't plan to pay much attention to the cigar at all...
Score: 80