Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Epicurean Carnavale

Wrapper origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper type: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 5"
Ring: 56
Cost: $9.50

Appearance (0-20)This is a great looking cigar. I would be somewhat bias here, but two of my favorite features of a great looking cigar are the box-press and dark colored wrapper. This one carries both of those features, along with an quirky band. The Carnavale band features a colorful masquerade, mardi gras look to it. The cigar itself sports a dark brown wrapper.

Score: 19

Construction (0-20): 
The pre-light construction is solid upon inspection. There are no obvious veins in the wrapper, the cigar is wrapped flawlessly, and the shape is a perfect box-press. During the smoke, there were no obstructions to take away from the overall experience.

Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Somewhat mellow, this was right around an exact medium in terms of strength.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): While not a powerful spoke, the flavor profile was quite enjoyable. From the very beginning, the most prominent flavors that came through were dried fruit and nuts, cherries, and some vanilla-like tones. There was no inherent spice, and was more of a rich and creamy profile. I would mention that if smoked too fast, the flavors seem to get bitter fast. Aside from that, this was a very well done cigar.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): In the $9 range, that seems to be a tad high in my book. I believe that in this cigar age, we are somewhat spoiled by the sheer amount of quality cigars that are out there.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: Provided by Emilio Cigars

Overall (0-100): The Carnavale does everything well, and only falls somewhat short for me in the pricing. Unfortunately, there are so many excellent sub $8 cigars out there, I need something to really wow me getting close to the $10 range. Value is definitely a category that is very subjective and dependent on frequency of smoking and disposable income.

Score: 89

Ezra Zion FHK Lance

Wrapper origin:  Mexico
Wrapper type: San Andres Maduro
Filler: Brazil/Nicaragua
Length: 7"
Ring: 44
Cost: $6.95

Appearance (0-20)The Ezra Zion FHK has a very nice look to it. The top band has a regal looking gold, black, and silver blend of colors, and the foot band brings out the FHK line. The cigar itself has a beautiful medium/dark brown wrapper that has a somewhat grainy feel.

Score: 18

Construction (0-20): 
The overall construction was solid from start to finish. There burn line was straight from start to finish, while also burning cool right down to the nub. After cutting off the cap, there was no excessive debris to be found. The ash was tightly coiled, and the draw was excellent.

Score: 18

Strength (0-20): The strength on this was right around medium. I didn’t get a building profile, which could be due to the lancero size.

Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): Right off the bat, there are small bits of spice to start off the smoke. These flavors seem to subside a bit, and move into woody and earthy notes mingled throughout. As the cigar progresses into the second half, most of the flavors stay consistent, but the peppery spice really ramps back up. Finishing up, the spice moves back down and the original flavors continue until the final puff.

Score: 18

Value (0-20): For the size and its overall offering, the price point seems to fit in the correct price range. While $7 isn't a steal for the FHK, it is priced roughly in the correct group.

Score: 17

Additional Notes: This cigar was provided by Emilio Cigars

Overall (0-100): This was somewhat tough to grade. I believe the Ezra Zion FHK is a great product offering, receives an overall solid score, and does many things well. The only problem, is that is doesn't not overly excel in one or two categories to push it to the next level. Wrapping up, this is a definitely a cigar that I would buy again.

Score: 88

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ramon Bueso Genesis Habano

Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler / Binder: Honduras & Nicaragua &Secret
Length: 5”
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.25

Background:  Three years ago Ramon Bueso went out on his own way to release the first of his personal line, “Genesis The Project”. We first tried the smoke out at the annual Cigarfest and immediately fell in love, even going so far as to preorder multiple boxes and urge our readers to do the same. A year later, again at Cigarfest, we hoped to try his new offering – The Odyssey. In strict comparison to the Genesis, we found it to fall a bit short, but still solid if you are into a less complex and less flavor / power packed cigar. Since then we have been waiting and hoping that a trip to the festival would afford us the opportunity to try something new… to maybe create the same magic that the original Bueso offering did. And lo and behold about two weeks before Cigarfest, the Genesis Habano hits stores. So did it reach the same level as the original Genesis?

Appearance (0-20):  Bueso picks up right where he left off, with the same kind of label that was used prior on The Project and The Odyssey. Building the brand is important, and this derivative simply works as it isn’t too flashy while still proclaiming the brand. The wrapper is perfect from end to end. It’s got a beautiful color, appears well packed, and there aren’t any real veins to note at all.
Score: 19

Construction (0-20): The stick is well packed, period. It feels solid from end to end with no gaps at all. The wrapper is slightly silky to the touch. There is only a small amount of tobacco debris from the cut. The draw initially is spot on. When working down the stick, the burn remained sharp with a light grey ask.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Touted as full strength, it meets that to perfect completion. Get ready for a kick in the pants with this one..
Score: 20

Flavor (0-20): Complexity is at a good level on this one – where it’s initially really rich and leathery there are massive pulses of wood, nuts, and espresso. There are light blasts of pepper that are intermingled with a sweetness that may be akin to a natural sweetness or honey. The balance between the varying characteristics of the stick works pretty well as a whole, though there are a couple of instances where it conflicts a little. Thankfully it didn’t ruin the experience, but instead was only a slight detraction.
Score: 16
Value (0-20): At $5.25 this cigar will hold its own against sticks twice the price, especially if you are looking for a well-balanced heavyweight contender.
Score: 19

Additional Notes: Paired with water on my broski's deck.

Overall (0-100):  Ramon Bueso completed the trifecta with this one, adding it to two very different cigars in The Odyssey and The Project. All are good for different reasons, but this one falls smack dab in the center. It’s a great looking cigar with solid construction and one hell of a punch. That punch makes it so that it really isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you are looking for something strong and balanced with a complex set of flavors, this one will fall right in your wheelhouse. At the price of $5.25, its worth picking up… but even more so when you can snag it at a deal price. Personally I was able to get them for about three bucks per.

Score: 92

Monday, May 11, 2015

Press Release: Camacho announces American Barrel-Aged

PINELLAS PARK, FL (Thursday, April, 30th 2015) –– Camacho, the worlds leading brand of bold cigars, is proud to announce the first release under it’s new Master Built Series, Camacho American Barrel-Aged. A complex and intense new cigar experience inspired by the uncompromising American spirit, with bourbon barrel-aged Corojo at its heart.

American Barrel-Aged is a monumental smoke that welds the essence of true frontier mettle to Camacho’s impenetrable Cuban roots. An experience that shatters all expectations, pushes every limit and paves the way for a life lived out loud.

With the spirit of America and the soul of a craftsman, Camacho American Barrel-Aged celebrates the hardworking grit of Kentucky bourbon makers and the passionate artistry of our master builders. Challenging convention at every turn. Working together to forge an intense smoking experience unlike anything else. A process that begins with the original Corojo plant, aging its legendary leaves for six years and then locking them in charred Kentucky bourbon barrels.

Wrapped in five-year-old American broadleaf, each cigar delivers a richness and complexity characterized by oaky flavors and sweet bourbon aromas. American Barrel-Aged is truly the embodiment of uncompromising craftsmanship. Born from the inexhaustible spirit that has inspired Camacho from day one.

“American Barrel-Aged is something we have been working on for some time and we are very excited to finally share it with aficionados now in the US and across global markets in the near future. This project marks the first time a Camacho core line has been made outside of Honduras and we are extremely proud of what our master builders in the Dominican Republic have brought to life. Barrel aging is a very tedious and hands-on process. We are aging around 2,000 lbs of Corojo filler tobacco and rotating the barrels one leaf at a time every few weeks. Each batch takes a full five months to complete and requires constant attention to ensure the proper journey for this special tobacco,” said Dylan Austin, Director of Marketing for Davidoff of Geneva USA.

The blend is constructed almost entirely of American grown tobacco including a broadleaf wrapper, binder and filler, along with a maduro filler tobacco from Pennsylvania. One leaf of the six-year-old, bourbon barrel-aged Corojo tobacco was added to the recipe and is the main component that amplifies the complexity of the blend.

To intensify the launch of American Barrel-Aged, a full nationwide road tour is in the works and will kickoff with a weeklong extravaganza at Corona Cigar in Orlando starting on June 8th. Each of the American Barrel-Aged launch events will span across three days and are limited to a group of twenty-five hand selected retailers. The grand finale event will be held at Tampa Humidor in Tampa, FL on December 19th where the tour will come to a close.

American Barrel-Aged will begin shipping nationwide on Monday, June 15th and retails for $10 - $12 per cigar.

Camacho American Barrel-Aged Road:  Tour Dates & Locations

Jun 8 – 13
Corona Cigar Co.
Orlando, FL
Jun 16 – 18
Cigar Cave
Palm Harbor, FL
Jun 25 – 27
Virginia Beach, VA
Jul 1 – 3
Cigar Realm
Ashland, VA
Jul 9 – 11
Tinderbox Waldorf
Waldorf, MD
Jul 30 – Aug 1
Humidour Cigar Shoppe
Cockeysville, MD
Aug 6 – 8
Regency Cigar Emporium
East Greenwich, RI
Aug 13 – 15
Two Guys Smoke Shop
Nashua, NH
Aug 20 – 22
Cup of Joes
Queensbury, NY
Aug 27 – 29
Truly Cigars
Florence, AL
Sept 3 – 5
Blend Bar
Indianapolis, IN
Sept 9 – 11
Just For Him
Springfield, MO
Sept 17 – 19
Outlaw Cigar Co
Overland Park, KS
Sept 24 – 26
Addison Cigar
Addison, TX
Oct 1 – 3
Club Humidor
San Antonio, TX
Oct 8 – 10
Heroes & Legacies
Austin, TX
Oct 15 – 17
Serious Cigar
Houston, TX
Oct 22 – 24
Cigar Shop Biloxi
Biloxi, MS
Oct 29 – 31
Cigars & More
Birmingham, AL
Nov 5 – 7
Franklin Cigar
Franklin, TN
Nov 12 – 14
Havana Phil’s
Greensboro, NC
Nov 19 – 21
Ansteads Tobacco
Fayetteville, NC
Dec 3 – 5
5 Point Bottle Shop
Athens, GA
Dec 10 – 12
Smoke Inn
Boynton Beach, FL
Dec 17 – 19
Tampa Humidor (Grand Finale)
Tampa, FL