Monday, April 29, 2013

601 Serie Green Tronco Habano Oscuro


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.50

Appearance (0-20): The deep, rich, oily wrapper on the outside of this 601 is what really differentiates this from the Blue or White. It’s got nearly perfect color with no visible issues at all. The band is an off colored green that works well with the darker wrapper beneath. As is standard for the 601 blends, the band is a normalized form to represent the brand.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): The outer wrapper was soft and spongy with just the slightest bit of give to it. There were no concerns on the way the tobacco was set within and the initial cut revealed almost no debris. Initial puffs were a tad tight, but once it was lit it loosened up enough that it hit the proverbial sweet spot. While the burn was a bit on the uneven side the ash held on for almost two inches each time. The ash itself was closer to a gray and a bit flaky.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20): This one absolutely hits the full range that it is billed at, though it begins in a more medium to full range to begin.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Some of the elements that are found in the Blue label are found here in the Green, but with so much more power. Espresso, chocolate, leather, and some pepper on the retrohale are the paramount with this blend. While the complexity doesn’t seem to be the name of the game with this stick, you will find the basic four flavors weaving in different quantities to keep the flavor profile interesting.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): The power packed nature of this cigar gives credence to paying the $8.50 price tag, though there are some others on the market that may top this one.
Score: 17

Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.


Overall (0-100):  My preference actually leaned toward the Blue if selecting between 601 cigars, though the similarities are close enough that I would need to think about what I’m really looking for on that given day. The 601 Green looks absolutely gorgeous and has such wonderful robust flavors of espresso, chocolate, and leather that it may come off as too rich for someone to smoke these all of the time. Add to that some slight issues were had with the construction and the pricepoint of $8.50, and you may find yourself straying from this as an everyday cigar. However, it is the perfect complement to a nice big meal.
Score: 89



Ramon Bueso Odyssey Toro



Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Connecticut Honduras
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua, Honduras, and Dominican Republic
Length: 6”
Ring: 50
Cost: $7.50

Appearance (0-20): Following the same model as his first release, Ramon Bueso’s label for the Odyssey looks much like his other offering, but uses brown and gold tones instead of the black that was used previously. In contrast to the original wrapper that the Genesis sports, this one is a Connecticut shade wrapper that is grown in Honduras. The wrapper has a very nice light shade to it with no major imperfections.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): Quality still seems to reign here, as it is well packed from the initial pickup. The wrapper has some light give, but it feels like the tobacco within is perfectly spread throughout. The initial cut revealed very little debris, with a smooth easy draw. After lighting up, the draw remained consistent with just a little give. The burn was slightly off and the ash held up relatively well (1.5 inches at a time) but was a hair flakey. The ash itself was nearly a pure white.  
Score: 17

Strength (0-20): Listed as a medium offering, I found this to be above that range slightly. It begins in the lower side of the medium range and nearly hits full status by the time its done.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): Once the flame hits the tobacco you’ll find a nice hot red pepper spice. But don’t get completely set on it maintaining that spice level. Within moments, the pepper drops off almost completely and a rich roasted nut flavor is ushered in. Along with it comes some notes of cream that increase as the stick continues. In the background there are some woodsy flavors and a rich tobacco core to it. If you pay careful attention, you will also find a slight highlight of a natural mint that compliments this blend perfectly without going overboard.
Score: 19

Value (0-20): $7.50 is a solid pricepoint for this cigar. The flavor complexity alone is worth giving this one a try for the price. Though I would likely go for a bundle to drop the price.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with water at CigarFest 2013.

Overall (0-100):  Let me start out by saying if you are looking for another version of the Genesis – plain and simple… you are going to be let down. But if you go in with an open mind you are going to find an extremely interesting and complex cigar that has really unique hints of mint hidden beneath the creamy and nutty base. Slight falters in construction (slight burn issues, flakey ash) and a difference in strength profile (billed as medium though it spans the entire scale) dropped this down a few points, but it’s still worth smoking even at the $7.50 price. Ramon Bueso has put out another solid cigar that may end up being a diamond in the rough as it ages.
Score: 89

El Suelo by L'Atelier


 Information:

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper origin:  Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan and Connecticut Broadleaf
Length: 5.2"
Ring: 56
Cost: ~$4.00 or $3.35/bundle

Appearance (0-20):  The El Suelo is meant to be a value, everyday cigar from L'Atelier and Pete Johnson.  The wrapper was a medium to dark brown color, and had a fairly grainy element to the wrapper itself.  The band is fairly simple with its product line "El Suelo" on the front, and a small L'Atelier gold leaf on the back to designate its origins.

Score: 17


Construction (0-20):  
I was only able to smoke one El Suelo so far, but the first one really left a good impression on me.  The cigar was well packed, yet produced a nice draw.  The burn line was razor sharp all the way down, and produced a beautiful white coiled ash. And the ash......talk about construction for a $4 cigar.  I didn't get to snap a picture, but the ash held on for over 3 inches on a 5.2" cigar. It held straight up, and was overall excellent.


Score: 20

Strength (0-20): Listed as med-full, I felt as this was very close to the mark.  I was so focused on the flavor and construction profile, that I didn't pay as much attention to the strength.  The good thing is, it definitely wasn't mild or full.  Right in the middle is about right.

Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): The general flavors in the cigar were very good throughout.  There isn't much complexity in transitioning from flavor to flavor, but the notes are full from start to finish.  The predominant notes are a rich caramel-coffee experience, with a definite note of some kind of sweet fruit.  I picked up some very light spice, which complimented the sweet flavors very well.

Score: 18

Value (0-20):  This is a very enjoyable cigar in its own right, but value is always important. I can think that a cigar is great, but it better knock my socks off if it's going to cost me $25.  On the other hand, this smoke was under $3.50 per stick in a bundle.  This is  no-brainer for the value, coupled with the flavors and construction.


Score: 20

Additional Notes: Smoked at Cigarfest

Overall (0-100): Now you could be reading this review saying, "How could you give this cigar a 93?" Well, the first part of that is to have no glaring holes in any category.  Then, knock something out of the park like the perfect construction on the first cigar I smoked.  Then look at the value of under $3.50 a stick, and you will be VERY hard pressed to find another cigar right now in its price range.  Do yourself a favor and grab a bundle. If you're not totally sure about the product line, try to split a bundle with someone or grab a single.  Great job to Pete Johnson and L'Atelier!


Score: 93

Sunday, April 28, 2013

L'Atelier LAT54


 Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Equador Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 5.6"
Ring: 54
Cost: $8.50

Background Info:  The L'Atelier line is a combination blend from Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and Don Pepin Garcia.  The cigars are made in Esteli, Nicargua, and it is the first cigar produced in the L'Atelier line released last year.

Appearance (0-20):  The LAT54 appears to be a very well put together cigar.  The wrapper leaf is flawless, and has an oily medium-brown wrapper.  From my understanding, this is a hybrid type leaf, and the first of its kind on the market.  The wrapper comes together with a small pigtail on the end, which is a nice touch to the craftsmanship.  The band is fairly simple, yet gives a splash of elegance with gold leaf type of garnishment.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20):  The initial inspection looks good, while the foot seems a bit loose of tobacco.  The LAT54 lit up very easily, and had a very nice burn line to it.  The draw was easy and smooth, and yielded quite a large amount of smoke.  This was somewhat surprising for how light a wrapper it has.  Overall during the smoke, everything went smooth without any issues.


Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Listed as medium-full, it might have just touched that point.  This sat more in the medium range for me, yet had a very enjoyable flavor profile.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20):  From start to finish, the LAT54 gives a nice variety of flavors.  While not overly rich, they were blended well together.  The main tasting notes were woody, with some sweet vanilla and cream.  The flavors are fairly consistent throughout, giving a sweet balanced experience.  No spice is prevalent, but wasn't needed to produce this solid smoke.


Score: 18

Value (0-20): For $8.50, this is a solid stick.  I generally like a more rich experience in terms of flavor, yet everything was done well here.  This is definitely a stick that should be tried once, and worth the money for a 5-pack if you enjoy it.  Now this is just a personal preference, I would rather have a bit more flavor of something like an Oliva V, LP Undercrown, or another Tatuaje blend.


Score: 17

Additional Notes: Smoked on my deck

Overall (0-100):  While I've seen various reviews, many of which giving some high scores, I didn't see an "amazing" cigar present.  This was a very strong stick, that was very enjoyable and worth multiple smokes.  My personal preference is a stronger and richer cigar, yet this is one of the lighter cigars that I would go back to.  Overall, I was pleased with the first offering from L'Atelier.  I would suggest that you give this one a shot, no matter what your smoking preference is.


Score: 88

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

601 Serie Blue Robusto




Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.25”
Ring: 52
Cost: $7.50

Appearance (0-20): The maduro wrapped 601, the Blue Label, is much more my style when it comes to cigars than my previous post on the White. This one is right on the money in terms of its looks – a beautiful oily maduro wrapper with only small veins that are evident. The blue and gold label stands up to the dark hues of the tobacco beneath it, and it is overall a standard 601 presentation (though again, they have changed the bands multiple times over the years). It’s toothy, and looks like it will hold up well.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): Picking it up just reinforced the sturdy nature of this smoke. It gave a nice amount of spring back to the touch, and had no instances where it felt like it may be under packed. The initial cut was smooth and the draw was close to optimal, though it was a tad tight. After lighting up, the draw loosened a bit, getting it right to the sweet spot where it needed to be. The burn was outstanding: nice and cool, razor sharp, and it held the ash outstandingly (2inches at a time).
Score: 19

Strength (0-20): Full strength? If it isn’t full strength, it’s at least pretty close to it. I felt it began more in the higher end of the medium to full range, and increased quickly into the full spectrum.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): Off the initial puffs of the cigar, you will find a really nice chocolatey and nutty mix going on. The retrohale has a slight pepper flavor to it, but the real thing to look for is an extremely smooth buttery quality to it that adds to the experience. The first third of the cigar closes out with the introduction of some coffee flavors that meld in harmoniously and enhance what is already there. But as each inch progresses, I found that the chocolate and nut flavors fade back and allow the coffee flavor to take over, still with that hint of sweetness though that keeps it from becoming bitter.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): $7.50 is a very nice pricepoint for a cigar with this power and flavor. Comparing it to some of the other heavy hitters out there, and the price will be either on par or better than the competition.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with coffee at Cigars International.

Overall (0-100):  Where the 601 White was mediocre and boring, the Blue excelled. This expertly constructed stick has only small issues that knocked it from a potential top rating. The strength packs enough power to give it some real kick, but isn’t so much that your head is floating afterward. It’s a good thing too, since you’ll want to really be able to enjoy the coffee, chocolate, and nut flavors that this stick presents. At $7.50, it’s got a competitive price to other things out there with similar quality, and could actually be considered a bit of a bargain.
Score: 91

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

601 Serie White Connecticut Robusto


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $6.50

Appearance (0-20): I’m typically not one for Connecticut wrappers, but the 601 White has an almost pristine look to it. It’s clean with only minor veins. Otherwise it has a very light sheen to the wrapper with a gold and white band. The one thing that is a little odd is that 601 has changed their banding a couple of times, so different iterations show different things.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): The tobacco in this was a bit spongey, but it was well packed. The cut showed a slight bit more excess than I would have liked, and the draw was a tad loose. After lighting, the same issues still prevailed, but it was a very sooth smoke. Ashes held for 1.5” to 2” at a time, but it was rather flakey. Thankfully, the burn was as close to “razor sharp” as you are going to see without being 100% spot on.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20): While listed as a mild to medium, I found the 601 White to actually stick closer to the mild realm. It does eventually make it to medium when you get to the last quarter of the smoke, but in large part it’s a straightforward mild punch.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): From the first puff, the 601 White is extremely creamy with a slight peppery spice on the retrohale. It’s got elements that grant it some underlying woodsy tastes with additional light spice. But well… that’s it. There is a slight variance in the amount of pepper and the balance of sweetness through the rest of the smoke, but it sticks to the same exact flavor profile.
Score: 15

Value (0-20): $6.50 – worth it? Not really for me, but if you are a fan of a mild creamy cigar, it may be for you. Not the worst price, and honestly, its comparable to some other things on the market with a similar taste and finish.
Score: 16

Additional Notes: Paired with water at in my garage.


Overall (0-100):  The 601 White has some nice positives to begin with – it’s got a very nice flavor, a good appearance and construction, and a manageable pricetag. Unfortunately for me at least, the flavor is really one dimensional and has very little complexity, if any at all. Mind you, it’s a solid cigar for someone who is just delving into cigars, or wants something mild. It’s also an easy smoker if you have had a few drinks and aren’t paying much attention to it, but if you’re looking for something with more power and different nuances, skip this one outright.
Score: 83




Monday, April 15, 2013

K. A. Kendall 7-20-4 1874 Series Robusto Especial


Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.25”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.50

Background Info: I picked a couple of these up at the Atlantic City, NJ beer festival a little over a week ago. After talking with the gentleman there manning the booth, I found out this comes from a brick and mortar up in New Hampshire. I’m always happy to buy from the “little guys” of the industry.

Appearance (0-20): With a lighter colored wrapper that contains some character, it’s intriguing to the eye. The banding also has an olden style feel to it, utilizing only black, gold, and red along the band. It caught my eye as being different among a number of other cigars at the beer festival. There were not noticeable major issues, no cracking or damage, etc, and no large veins.
                                                              Score: 17

Construction (0-20): Picking up the cigar gave one of the most striking first impressions as the wrapper was amazingly soft and silky. But even with a soft wrapper, it was solid and firm throughout. The initial cut had almost no debris and the prelit draw was nearly perfect, with just a small amount of resistance. It lit up easily and throughout had a moderate amount of smoke. The only concern I had at all was that it didn’t burn entirely evenly at the beginning, though thankfully it all evened out by about the midpoint. The ash held on for more than an inch and a half at a time.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Medium to full is the normal spectrum for this cigar and it hit it well. The nicotine punch was noticeable but not overpowering, and it seemed to build as things progressed through the smoke.
Score: 17

 Flavor (0-20): The first puffs set the tone of pepper, but there is something almost tangy and sweet that comes right in behind that. The mixture reminds me of chomping down on some trail mix with nuts and dried fruits in it. Its sugary, a slight bit nutty, but the mix of flavors works well together. The pepper continues to linger throughout the smoke, even when the slightly nutty taste subsides and gives way to the bit of sweetness with earthy undertones. It was really an interesting experience.
Score: 18

Value (0-20): $8.50. I paid a bit more than the listed price here while at the beer festival, but hey… you have to think you are going to pay a little bit of a premium there. Still it’s a solid price given the blend and quality, and support of a brick and mortar is always a good thing.
Score: 16

Additional Notes: Paired with water at in my garage during an amazing thunderstorm.


Overall (0-100):  Since I was completely unaware of this brand / blend, it was a nice surprise to find a diamond in the rough. The flavor profile is both unique and interesting and the price isn’t obtrusively prohibitive. Mind you, if this was a bit cheaper I could see myself buying a box without batting an eye. Still, it’s nice to support the brick and mortars out there and keep them in business, especially when they put out quality like this. Across the board, this is a solid buy.
Score: 86






Thursday, April 11, 2013

El Mejor Robusto



Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Corojo
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 5.5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.00

Appearance (0-20): The El Mejor comes with no frills attached; it’s simple and straightforward.  Red and Gold banding work well against the corojo wrapper’s soft tone, giving it the little bit of pop it needs. The wrapper has no extreme issues of any kind, sporting just a few minor imperfections. This isn’t a cigar that would necessarily stand out when looking through a broad range of them.
                                                       Score: 16

Construction (0-20): The construction was solid from the initial feel, with a slight give to the tobaccos inside. It was relatively well packed with a few small pockets that could possibly have been a little overstuffed. The initial cut had a little excess tobacco, and the prelit draw was decently spot on. After lighting, the draw remained decent through the stick, but there were some instances where it was a little tight. The burn wasn’t razor sharp, but it was close enough to straight that it wasn’t too much of a worry, and it held its ash very well.
Score: 16

Strength (0-20): This one falls into the medium to full range, but to be honest, I felt it hung a lot closer to medium throughout. There were a few instances where it flirted with possibly amping up in strength, but it just never quite got there.
Score: 16

Flavor (0-20): There was a nice mixture of coffee and peppery spice while smoking this. It’s an interesting combination that was only enhanced by some earthiness and a light sweetness (like a milk chocolate) that hung in the background. Some additional woodsy flavors also blended in randomly through each third of the smoke. It wasn’t overly complex, but it wasn’t a completely one dimensional either.
Score: 16
 
Value (0-20): $5.00 is a decent price for these, given the experience above. It’s a solid stick, though not outstanding.
Score: 16

Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.

Overall (0-100):  For $5, it’s hard to complain about a stick that is consistent, relatively well constructed, and has some decent flavors. But with so many good cigars on the market, it’s also hard to rave about that same kind of cigar. Enter the El Mejor. There is nothing wrong with having these around as some easy smokers, but it’s really nothing to get overly excited about. It’s solid in all aspects, but it just doesn’t really stand out on its own. Would I buy more at $5 per stick? I don’t think so. But if you buy a box, they come out to $3 per. For a stick that I wouldn’t have to think much about, and just relax and enjoy while being distracted by other things, that’s a price I could get behind.
Score: 80