Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kentucky Fire Cured Hogs Tooth

Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexican San Andreas
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua and Brazilian
Length: 6
Ring: 46
Cost: $6.80

Background:  The Kentucky Fire Cured line, specifically as an extension of the MUWAT brand, is an interesting concept. The leaves that are part of the blending process that are normally air cured were instead…. You guessed it – fire cured. It brings a nice smoky flavor along for the ride to mix in with all of the other nuances.

As time has progressed, Drew Estate has released exclusive lines to a small collection of stores. This one in particular is exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop.

Appearance (0-20):  A simple light brown band (that honestly reminds me of a paper bag color) wraps around this stick. In black lettering it proclaims this as a “Genuine MUWAT” with the centerpiece calling out the “Kentucky Fire Cured” nature of the stick. The outer wrapper has a rugged kind of look to it with some noticeable ridges and veins. Bear in mind that this one is being given a little benefit of the doubt as I believe their entire image is being carved around the idea of it being a rustic cigar.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): From the initial look there weren’t too many concerns about how this one was rolled. Initial cut left me with a small amount of tobacco debris and the prelit draw was on point. Post lighting the draw remained perfect, albeit with a slightly uneven burn.
Score: 16

Strength (0-20): Famous lists this stick sitting at the medium strength range, though personally I think it only reaches that in the broadest of strokes. It’s more apt to say it’s on the higher end of the low spectrum, or maybe the low end of medium.
Score: 13

Flavor (0-20): This was a rather straightforward smoke. While it has some of the elements you would expect – earthiness, smokiness (flavorwise) and some nuts and earth… there isn’t too much beyond it. It definitely blends those flavors well and isn’t overpowering from the smoke perspective. But it felt… lacking.
Score: 12

Value (0-20):  $6.80…. don’t see this one as a value player since it’s more a niche kind of cigar. Not bad, but not great either.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Paired with water. Provided by Famous Smoke Shop.

Overall (0-100): Now don’t jump on the bandwagon claiming that I didn’t score this one well because I don’t like cigars that deviate from whatever norm you place on cigars. The truth is I personally think this one falls short of where it should be. Curing the tobacco via smoking brings a really cool and innovative element to the whole process and to the smoking experience. But it kind of lacks in complexity and strength, which pulls down the potential value that you can place upon it. As noted, the earthy, nutty, and woodsy flavors are nice… but just don’t have the wow factor that I was looking for. It’s not a “bad” cigar per say. It’s just not quite executed very well.

So here comes the real questions – is it unique? Yes… it’s got that in spades. Is it something you should try once? Yes. It’s definitely one that should be experienced because it does differ so much from the other things on the market. Most importantly – does the blend change over time? Time will tell here. In a month or two, I may say, “damn, that’s a good cigar…. What was I thinking?”, or I may not. We shall see (since I’m totally saving one to give a whirl at a later time)!


Score: 72




Monday, January 25, 2016

Alec Bradley 1633 Robusto

Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Connecticut
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama
Length: 5
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.91

Background:  As was mentioned previously, Alec Bradley released two Famous Smoke Shop exclusive cigars that pay homage to the past, specifically to some milestone dates that helped to contribute to the spread of tobacco crops in certain areas. The first of which, the 1600, was in honor of the cultivation of tobaccos in Brazil. This particular offering, the 1633, commemorates when the first tobacco plants were being planted in Connecticut.

Appearance (0-20):  The coloration on this wrapper is a nice light shade of tan, which is common in the Connecticut wrapper realm. There are few veins of note, with a couple of very fine blemishes, and the outer wrap is solid. The 1633 label is very much akin to the 1600 in that it’s a bit on the large side. While this one is just as intricate, the coloration is much different, bringing in a light blue and red to go along with the gold and black colors on the band. Personally I think this is a much better eye catcher when speaking comparatively.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): There is a firm feel to the stick with a light silky sheen along the wrapper. Minimal veins flank the outside and the wrap seems both tight and pretty much seamless. Initial cut had a small amount of debris with a slightly tight draw to begin. Post lighting the draw remained slightly tight but eventually loosened up perfectly. The burn, however, was slightly uneven throughout even though the ash tended to hold for over and inch and a half at a time.
Score: 17

Strength (0-20): Medium strength is the billing and it hits it pretty well. I found that it was actually a bit heavier in the beginning and leveled off as the smoke progressed. Still, it never reached beyond the higher end of the medium spectrum before settling in for the long haul.
Score: 17

Flavor (0-20): Heavy pepper dominates the mouth on the initial few puffs, with little much else to note because of its strong presence. But that pepper fades back quickly to become a secondary flavor while a much more nutty presence becomes more to the forefront. There are some hints of cinnamon and a little woodsy taste coming off it, though not extremely distinct. As it progresses to closer to the midpoint of the cigar, the woodsy flavor becomes something that I could pinpoint, being akin to a cedar flavor. The nuttiness still resides and is complimented by a creamy vanilla. The vanilla fades back in the final third though, with the cedar ramping up further. It ends off where it began – with a slight ramp up of the spice.
Score: 18

Value (0-20):  With this being another cigar under the $6 range, it’s hard to argue with anyone who finds this to be a good value proposition.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with water.

Overall (0-100): Most of the time, when you pick up a Connecticut shade wrapper, you expect a milder sort of cigar. However, with this offering from Alec Bradley has a bit of a surprise in there with the Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos within. But it’s a good flavor. Honestly there is nothing too big to complain about at all. Everything from the appearance on through received solid marks. The complexity is even pretty well there and for under $6 – it’s a really pleasant surprise.  
Score: 87





Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Alec Bradley 1600 Robusto

Information:
Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Brazil
Filler / Binder: Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua
Length: 5
Ring: 50
Cost: $5.91


Background:  The Alec Bradley 1600 Brazilian First Crop line gives a nod to a bit of history – namely when tobacco crops were originally cultivated in Brazil. It’s an interesting homage for AB to be making but an important one given the overall spread of tobacco throughout the world. This particular offering is a Famous Cigars exclusive, so if you’re looking to get your hands on one you will only be able to find it there.

Appearance (0-20):  The habano wrapper on the outside is nice, dark, and oily. The core veins aren’t anything of real note and there aren’t many blemishes to speak of beyond a couple of small divots. So far so good. The band is big and bold against the darker backdrop in gold, white, navy blue, and black. One might actually consider it to be a bit gaudy. The 1600 portion of the band takes up a large amount of the real estate and is flanked on the top by the Alec Bradley logo and name and below the proclamation of “Brazilian”. An additional flange below is the more ornately structured portion which is where the “First Crop” language is written.
Score: 18

Construction (0-20): Nailed it. Everything feels well packed from the initial feel and it has no issues that I can see. The cut revealed no debris and the pre-light draw is perfect. Lighting it up was quick and easy and the draw remained consistent throughout, providing a relaxing smoke that burned nearly perfectly. The ash held solid for multiple inches. 
Score: 19

Strength (0-20): The robusto vitola is billed at a full strength. I feel like it seems to hang around that area but doesn’t quite nail it. Close. It’s a hair below and peaks into the full strength category at points but won’t stick it out the whole time.
Score: 16


Flavor (0-20): The initial light gives off a really nice woodsy backdrop that is balanced with a bitter creamy coffee. There is a lingering sweetness that reminds me of dark chocolate and some earthy tones. Slight spice on the retrohale is evident but it doesn’t overpower the other flavors… and actually seems to enhance them to a certain extent. This continues through the majority of the cigar with some additional complexities being added in terms of flavor – there’s some leathery flavors and something akin to nutmeg. When the final portion begins it seems like the leather comes to the forefront with additional sweetness, while many of the other flavors drop into the background, but they still reside in the profile. Expect that pepper to give a bit of a push toward the end too. Really well done.
Score: 18

Value (0-20):  For under $6.00 a stick, this could easily become a go-to cigar. The price is right Bob Barker. The price is right.
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Provided by the folks at Famous Smoke Shop. Paired with water.


Overall (0-100): Alec Bradley’s offering here is a solid one with very few things to gripe about. It’s a shame that the strength doesn’t quite get there or else this one would sneak into the 90s pretty easily. That’s the only misstep at all though.

Here's the simple portion of the rest – the band may be a little large but is well done, and the construction is outstanding.The flavor profile is a really rich and luxurious one, with deep coffee, wood, leather, and earthy flavors. Everything plays very well together and it even melds in the right amount of sweetness and spice. The complexity is certainly there. Put that together with the price being under $6 and you are looking at one that is absolutely worth the money. Give this one a try.


Score: 89

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Famous Smoke Shop Announces the Release of the Newest Addition to the VUDU Brand

Famous has just released the third line in their exclusive VUDU cigar brand. The new release is the VUDU Priest, with all sizes of the cigar currently available and on sale at Famous Smoke Shop through their online store and at their Easton, PA location. The first shipment has just arrived at the company’s warehouse. The company has expressed that the new brand will be available in limited quantities, but is not a one-time release and will be a consistent offering for the foreseeable future.

VUDU Priest cigars follow the wildly popular Dark and Sacrifice lines as yet another alternative for those looking to find a premium cigar at a reasonable price, with all three blended and produced by one of the best names in the industry J Fuego. The blend is bold and complex to keep any cigar lover’s attention, while maintaining a smooth draw courtesy of an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. In all, the VUDU Priest is rated as medium-bodied and full-flavored which makes this cigar perfect for mild bodied cigar lovers looking to explore a cigar with a little more strength. As an added bonus, each size aside from the Corona comes in a reusable vacuum sealed humidification jar to keep your cigars fresh on arrival, and to allow each customer to store these cigars safely without taking up room in their humidor.

Gary Korb of Famous Smoke Shop and Executive Editor at Cigar Advisor remarked on the VUDU Priest: “Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapped cigars are known to give you a smooth draw while putting out a lot of flavor. It basically incorporates a mix between a Connecticut Shade leaf and a traditional dark natural leaf so you’re not lacking in either smoothness or flavor. The Priest does a great job of using this versatile wrapper to appeal to most cigar smokers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this became an everyday smoke or at least a regular cigar for most smokers out there. All in all, it’s a great cigar with a really convenient and handy jar that you can use over and over again. I have been using my jar to keep my overflow cigars in, and it works great. It’s like I won a double jackpot on a game show!”

VUDU Priest cigars are available in four sizes – a 4 ¾ x 50 Robusto, 5 ½ x 46 Cuban Corona, 5 3/4 x 50 Toro, and a 6 3/4 x 50 Churchill. Each offer 19 cigars per humidification jar, with the Cuban Corona size offering 13 cigars in a bundle which does not include the jar. With Famous’ full discount pricing, customers can enjoy this new offering with individual retail prices which range from $3.80 to $5.15 per cigar. People interested in learning more about VUDU cigars or Famous Smoke Shop should visit www.Famous-Smoke.com or call 800-564-2486.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Sobremesa Corona

Information:
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler / Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf, Mexican, Nicaraguan
Length: 6.25
Ring: 44
Cost: $11.00

Background:  Anyone remember the name Steve Saka? If you don’t recognize the name, you should. He was the president and CEO of Drew Estate and an avid cigar enthusiast. You can likely thank him for a lot of the things that cigar smokers rave about from the DE lines like the Undercrown and Liga Privada. However this marks a turning point for Steve though as it’s the first major release for his new company: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust. While there is a lot to be excited about with it with a mastermind such as Steve at the helm, there are also some huge shoes to fill in order to reach the same heights that DE has previously.

Appearance (0-20):  The Sobremesa is housed in an Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper, which has a nice creamy brown complexion to it. It’s accented by a golden crown on the top and a foot band that contains the cigar name. Both have brown backdrops, though I don’t think that was the best choice for visibility purposes. If I didn’t know this was a Steve Saka cigar, I likely would not have snagged it from the counter… but after taking a quick look you can tell the stick is solid, with no visible blemishes or issues.
Score: 17


Construction (0-20): The silky outer wrapper feels good to the touch, and a quick squeeze gives a nod to a firm construction. Taking a look at the foot and you can see it looks pretty tightly wrapped. Nearly no debris was shed on the cut, and the initial draw has the perfect resistance. Post lighting the resistance stayed pretty spot on. The burn was nearly straight throughout, though I wouldn’t say it was “razor sharp”, with the ash holding on for about an inch and a half at a time with no effort at all.
Score: 19

Strength (0-20): Medium to full is where they have this one tabbed, and it definitely drops into that range perfectly with only the smallest of deviance.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): Two words: Pepper blast. Boom. Heavy pepper will greet you to begin on this with a backdrop that you may consider earthy. There are some hints of cedar but much of the stick is overpowered by the pepper, which drowns out any other subtle flavors that may be there. Somewhere close to the midpoint the pepper recedes back enough to bring in some nice bitter coffee flavors and something a bit creamy. The problem is the pepper doesn’t stay in the back seat for long – after another inch or so it comes back with a fury and resides there through the end.
Score: 14

Value (0-20):  I can’t knowingly give this one a great score, because at $11.00 it’s not exactly a cheap buy. But if you're a pepper fan like i am...
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Provided by the folks at Cigars International. Paired with water.

Overall (0-100): The stick being a new offering from Steve Saka meant that I definitely had some big expectations for it. And I wanted to say I really really really wanted to love it. But I didn’t – at least not yet.

The cigar, on some fronts, meets the expectations that I had. It’s superbly put together. It’s also in the correct strength profile for what it is being sold as. But where it falters right now is the flavor and complexity that one would expect of something from a product with Saka's name attached to it. The pepper is extremely overpowering throughout the smoke and it really feels, for lack of better words, out of balance. Because of this, it lacks complexity too. At $11 for a corona size, that’s not what you want to hear. If you like pepper though, and expect mainly that - the cigar will give it to you in spades. Hence why I couldn't knock this one too much.

My personal view is this one may end up being a steal in the future. Some of the initial batches of the Liga Privadas were a little on the strong end. Over time two things happened – the cigars were left to rest and they mellowed and the flavors mellowed properly, and the tobacco mixture may have been slightly altered to provide a better flavor profile. That’s exactly what I would expect here. Those pepper flavors will fade back over time and you will end up with a superb cigar. Because really – if the pepper is slightly better regulated, the cigar becomes more balances, the flavor ends up showing differently, and the value too may change. That's why I say I'm not in love with it just yet. But 6 months from now? A year from now? Maybe. Keep an eye on this one.

Score: 83