Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ghurkha Ghost






Information:
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Brazil
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Havana 98 Criollo
Length: 6”
Ring: 55
Cost: $7.50

Appearance (0-20): Lets be straight out honest here, the first thing you notice about the Gurkha Ghost has nothing to do with the cigar itself – you notice the band. The holographic band glimmers in the light and catches your eye immediately. It’s a departure from traditional / classic cigar bands for sure. Is it kitschy / gimmicky? Sure. But they win the first part of the battle by having something that catches your eye enough to get you to take a look at the cigar. Once you get beyond the band, you find a pretty normal looking stick: some smaller veins throughout, a good wrap job, and normalized color. The foot doesn’t contain large amounts of ligero either. It really does look like a run of the mill cigar. Still – kudos to Gurkha for thinking outside of the box to get me to take a look at their blend.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): There were no issues found with the initial feel of the stick, with the tobacco being evenly distributed throughout. It was pretty spongy to the touch with a softer wrapper. The cut revealed very little debris, and it had a slightly loose prelit draw. Lighting up came very easily and it smoked like a chimney through the entire stick. Even though it was a bit loose on the draw, the ash held pretty well at about an inch and a half per clip. It burned cool throughout; to the point where I only tossed this one out because it was too small to hold anymore.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20):  Listed as medium, I believe it exceeds a bit beyond that as it progresses. It definitely builds quite a bit after beginning in the lower end of the medium spectrum, topping off closer to full bodied.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): In the first third there’s a very nice bit of pepper to start you off that’s mixed almost immediately with a creamy sweetness. Undertones of cinnamon, earth, and even a little woodsy flavor will linger on the tongue to mix with the sweetness. What you can detect of the pepper begins to recede a bit more as you progress, giving way to the previously described cinnamon, and something that I can only describe as “buttery”, and some light cocoa. It still keeps its earthy tones, and when moving into the final third incorporates that more fully. The transitions weren’t always extremely clean, but the complexity is there.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): $7.50 is a pretty good price for this Gurkha. Actually, oddly enough, I felt it was close to the price it should be, considering Gurkha is notorious for inflating their prices beyond where they should be.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.

Overall (0-100):  It’s tough to walk by the Gurkha Ghost and not at least want to take a look. The holographic band draws you in, and you may be lucky if it does. So, it’s an inviting cigar. Check. The next step to keeping a customer’s interest is that the price isn’t astronomical like a lot of the Ghurkha offerings are. Check, since this one slates at around $7.50. Okay so let’s say you give in and give it a try – you’ll find yourself questioning if it’s really made by the same people who have been riddled with construction issues before, since this one doesn’t have the same issues! And what’s further, there are some really interesting flavors that you get throughout the smoke – cocoa, cinnamon, earthy tones, nice woodsy flavors, and slight pepper. If nothing else, you’ll find this to be enjoyable smoke (and smoke liberally for that matter) that is worth picking up at least once.
Score: 88

Monday, February 18, 2013

Liga Privada Papas Fritas




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Short filler from No. 9 and T52
Length: 4.5"
Ring: 44
Cost: $6.00

Over on Reddit Cigars, there is quite a large following for Liga Privada and Drew Estates.  After various posts and reviews, I decided to grab one in a trade. Here is how things turned out:

Appearance (0-20): If you're familiar with the LP line, you'll know that they are all well done.  The deep, dark, oily wrapper is such an eye-catcher.  It is wrapped like any other LP smoke, very well done.  For a corona, this even sports a small pig tail.  The band is fairly simple, sitting at the foot of the stick and designating its origins; Liga Privada.

Score: 18

Construction (0-20):
Coming into this smoke, I've heard A LOT about it. Almost too much. Regardless, you may or may not know that it is a short filler cigar.  During the smoke, you would never know that fact.  The burn was sharp and even all the way down, it burned fairly cool for a corona, and most surprising was the ash.  The ash coiled nicely, and held on for easily an inch at a time.  Color me impressed.


Score: 19

Strength (0-20): While it didn't seem too strong, the fullness of the flavors seem to add to the strength.  It probably sits right around the middle of the scale of medium/medium-full.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): If you have smoked the No. 9 or T52 before, you know how rich and robust the flavors are.  This is kind of like its little brother.  There is a bit of spice in the beggining  and then subsides a bit into the heart of the cigar.  The same chocolaty espresso flavors are present for the entirety of the cigar, but they aren't as robust.  I was very pleased with the flavors that were packed into this little stick.  The only comparable corona that I would smoke is the Puro Authentico from AJ Fernandez.  They are 2 very different cigars, but both done well.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): Unfortunately for me, herein lies the problem.  While the cigar itself was pretty good, $6 for a corona is a bit of a stretch.  If these were closer to $4, I would definitely be buying them to store away for a quicker smoke.  I would much rather buy 1 LP number 9 for the price of 2 papas fritas.


Score: 14



Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International

Overall (0-100): For the most part, I think you will either hate it or love it.  I've read tons of people praising these smoked, and another large variety complaining about the short filler and price.  For me, you would never know it was a short filler.  Then again, the filler is pretty damn good.  The price is my only snag.  Drew Estates did a great job to find a use for all of those No. 9 and T52 clippings that weren't going anywhere, but I feel like the price should be dropped at least a dollar. Then again, that my opinion.  I think it's at least worth a try, and you judge for yourself.


Score: 86

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ezra Zion Inception




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Corojo
Filler: Cuban seed, Nicargua
Length: 5.25"
Ring: 50
Cost: $8.00


Appearance (0-20): The overall impression is very well done.  For a cigar that you don't know much about, the band really can push you towards a purchase.  The main band silver and blacks, with a pretty cool logo design.  The band on the foot follows suit, but tells which line it is from.  After reading a write-up from another blogger, the Inception will be changing to the JAMIS Vu.  As for the cigar itself, there are a few small veins and the wrapper is very grainy.

Score: 18

Construction (0-20):  
For the most part, the construction was well done.  In this review from stogies on the rocks, his ash held on for quite awhile.  Mine on the other hand was a bit different; the ash was somewhat flaky, and ended up falling off by itself after only an inch.  Not a big deal for me, since the cigar burned well the whole way through.  The smoke was very thick, and the draw was just right.  It burned pretty cool, which doesn't always happen with a small smoke.

Score: 17

Strength (0-20): No real nicotine hit for me, so it probably would sit in the medium range.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): The cigar started off pretty spicy.  It wasn't knock your socks off, but it really sat on your tongue to give you the spice.  This was consistent for the first inch or so until the ash fell off, and then it moves to the heart of the smoke.  The middle section has strong wood notes, still some remnants of spice, and a bit of fruity/floral flavors.  I couldn't pinpoint the specific flavor, but there was some kind of sweetness involved.  For the remainder of the cigar, the spice was completely gone and was left with the woodiness and fruit.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): Coming in at $8.00, its a fair price to pay.  When looking at your premium cigars, you are looking anywhere from $5 to $10.  The only problem in that price range, is there is a plethora of options.  While not bad, I would like to see some more differentiation.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International

Overall (0-100): The overall experience was a pleasant one.  Its one of those cigars that I would just sit back and enjoy, but you also have the option to really taste the flavors.  I did enjoy the fruit, and would like if the spice stuck around for the entirety of the smoke.  I've only smoked 3 Ezra Zion cigars, and all of them have been very well done.  Unfortunately, its only been 1 cigar of each.  I'd like to smoke some additional ones in the future, and revisit some review.  If you haven't grabbed an Ezra Zion cigar yet, don't hesitate to buy some.


Score: 87

Monday, February 11, 2013

Isla del Sol




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sumatra
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 7”
Ring: 50
Cost: $4.50

Appearance (0-20): There’s nothing fancy about the outside of the Isla del Sol, but there doesn’t have to be. It’s got a nice Sumatra wrapper and dual bands on it. At the top is a flaring sun in a gold etching, set on a brownish backdrop. The lettering is in white, allowing it to stand out from the seemingly blank slate of color. The bottom band contains the same colors with a different design. There are some noticeable veins, though most are smaller in nature.
Score: 17


Construction (0-20): The initial feel of the cigar made me a little concerned as the tobacco didn’t have that even edge that it needs. There were definitely pockets that felt a little light on the backing. Still, the outside was in good condition. Clipping the end revealed a lot of debris. Actually, there was way too much for the normal standard (which plagued me throughout the smoking experience too). Lighting up was simple and easy, and it held its ash fell for the first few inches, but subsequent ashings dwindled. As it hit the midway point, the cigar also burned super hot, to the point where I had to put it down and sometimes relight it to keep from burning my finger.
Score: 12

Strength (0-20):  Mild to medium. If this doesn’t hit it on the head, it’s just a hair off of what they were shooting for.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): Let me first say that I enjoy flavored / infused cigars. Drew Estate does a fantastic job on the Acid lines. This had an almost overpoweringly sweet taste to it though to begin with. As the stick progressed, some of the natural chocolatey tones came through and toned down the experience quite a bit. A bitter coffee flavor also mixes in, again putting the flavor back to where it needs to be.
Score: 15

Value (0-20): On the flavored / infused cigar scale, $4.50 for a Churchill really is a good price. Unfortunately the value proposition becomes a bit skewed when factoring in construction and flavor. I would rather invest a few bucks more for something more reliable.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Paired with water in my garage.

Overall (0-100):  Before anyone questions my thoughts on this – I do like flavored / infused cigars. Not everyone does. But reviewing an infused cigar when you hate them normally… would be a travesty. So put that on the back burner. Secondly, I usually smoke a few of the cigar to ensure I am getting the same consistency with all of them. This particular review is actually a compilation of about 5 different instances of trying it. Each yielded similar results.

Typically, Drew Estate does a lot of things right. This one is a departure for the norm from them when it comes to their highest of standards when regarding their product. However, given some of the characteristics of it (cheaper, really sweet, etc) it could very well have some broad appeal to some of the novice cigar smokers who only have something occasionally. To most experienced cigar smokers though, this one would be mediocre at best.

That all being said – there are some major construction issues I ran into with the blend. I don’t think that has to do so much with the rollers, but more with the filler that is used. Such is the way things go sometimes. If that were the only flaw, I think I could have overlooked it somewhat in the value section. The unfortunate reality is the debris from the cut continues to be an issue, the sweetness is overpowering from the beginning, and the Isla del Sol burns too hot much of the time. Still, it has the hallmarks of a good infused cigar when you get past the initial sweet candy taste. It’s a shame that this one wasn’t toned down a bit from the get-go, but perhaps the true market direction was toward people looking for a cheap infused stick…

Score: 77


Sunday, February 3, 2013

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva



Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin:
Wrapper type: Mexican Oscuro
Filler: Nicaragua
Length: 6.2"
Ring: 52
Cost: $9.50

Appearance (0-20): Very similar to the Mi Amor, which I smoked last week, the Reserva has another very rich brown wrapper.  This one sports a Mexican Oscuro, which I expected to be a little bit darker.  Nonetheless, it was another appetizing smoke that draws you towards it in the cigar shop.  The only real differentiating factor here was the different sizes, along with the larger secondary band that designates its "Reserva"" title.

Score: 19

Construction (0-20):  
Everything seems to be the status quo for La Aroma de Cuba cigars.  The craftsmanship is always well done, and each aspect of the smoke comes together well.  The burn was fairly even during the smoke, the draw was smooth and easy, and the ash coiled nicely for close to 2 inches at a time.


Score: 18

Strength (0-20):  Similar to the original LADC, you definitely will feel some nicotine kick.  While not a cigar that you need to have a huge meal before, yet it still gives you a med-full experience.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20):  The Reserva line seems to have a similar blend to the original, except for one detail. Additional spice.  I would say that the cigar tastes just about the same, except I found it to have quite a bit more spice.  Most of the time I enjoy a spicy/sweetness balance, but I actually liked the original better.  While there was nothing bad about the smoke,  I didn't feel that the flavors complimented each other enough.  Besides the spice, you will find strong notes of cocoa with some dashes of woodiness.

Score: 17

Value (0-20): For the extra $2 to jump up to the Reserva line, I thought that the original was a better value. Still a rather tasty smoke, but over the $9 price might be a stretch for me.


Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigars International, paired with coffee

Overall (0-100): I think it was good that I smoked the original and Reserva back to back.  This really gave me an opportunity to review each cigar and compare the two.  Both cigars are very similar, as stated above, but the Reserva will present some additional spice and additional money.  While everyone has their preference and opinion, I didn't see much more from this smoke that would warrant the extra $2.  After reading through the review it may seem like I am bashing the smoke, but it is hard to re-market a very successful cigar (the original) if something drastic wasn't changed.  If you liked the LADC, then you will most likely enjoy this as well.

Score: 89