Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ashton San Cristobal Event

Tonight was the Ashton San Cristobal Event at Bull and Bear Tobacco, my favorite local shop. What a fun evening filled with a ton of cigars, great food and drinks (beer, wine, you name it)! A San Cristobal Fabuloso (Torpedo) was provided to smoke, which i did, and i also picked up 3 San Cristobal Guajiro's (6 5/8 X 46) and smoked one of those as well. They did a few different raffles, and i won a bag of Ashton cigars to cap off the night! San Cristobals are fantastic cigars, blended by Don Pepin Garcia for Ashton ,and as anyone who reads my blog knows, im a huge Pepin fan.

The La Aroma De Cuba Especial (pictured on the right) and the machine made cigar on the bottom were given to me on the side by the rep, who i talked to for at least 2 hours tonight. There was also an Ashton Maduro in the cigars i won, but i gave it to my buddy Jim who went to the event with me. Alex Merick was the Ashton rep at the event, and was an absolute pleasure to talk to. He was very down to earth and a fun guy to talk shop with, and he certainly knows his cigars!

Thanks again to the fine people at Bull and Bear for a really fun event!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quai d'Orsay Coronas Claro

Quai d'Orsay is one of the lesser known Cuban brands, and is one of the few brands i haven't tried before. This is the Coronas Claro, 5.6 inches X 42 ring gauge. This brand was originally created for the French market, catering to the mild and light cigars preferred in France at the time (1973).

This is a fairly basic looking cigar with a slightly wrinkly wrapper and some splits at the foot (damage occured during shipping) with a nicely applied cap and simple mustard colored band. The predraw flavors are very light and grassy.

The flavor up front shows some grassyness, a slight tea characteristic, and a honeylike sweetness. This is definitely a mild, toasty cigar, great for early in the day. The tea and honey flavors are very pleasant. Sometimes that grassy flavor can be overwhelming in a cigar, but it really works with this mild blend. I do not smoke a lot of mild cigars, since most mild cigars tend to be a bit on the boring side. This one however, is not boring at all.

The further i get into this cigar, the more i like it! That honey sweetness is still there, with the grassyness fading away a bit and being replaced with a very tasty shortbread cookie like flavor. At the tail end of this cigar, a slight leathery flavor showed up that i really didnt expect, but definitely enjoyed.

This cigar was a pleasant surprise for me. Usually cigars marketed as mild (especially in the non-Cuban market) are very bland and a waste of time for me. The Cubans got it right with this one though. This is a light, mild cigar, and has very pleasant and intriguing flavors that definitely keep you interested throughout the smoke. This could possibly be one of the best morning cigars available. I know the thought of a cigar in the morning sounds awful to most people, but lighting this up after a nice breakfast with a cup of tea would certainly be a pleasant and relaxing start to any day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo

Todays review is of the Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo, measuring in at 5.5 inches by 50 ring gauge. This is the maduro version of this cigar, which is also available in a natural wrapper. This particular cigar was sent to me by a friend who has aged these for a very long time. Im not sure how long, but i would assume at least 5+ years. This is more commonly known as a PAM (Padron Anniversary Maduro) and is one of Padron's super premium cigars. This is Nicaraguan Puro with a severe box press to it. The tobacco is aged for 4 years prior to being rolled.

This is a very solid feeling cigar, which i have noticed with most Padrons. They always feel overfilled but never smoke like it. The wrapper is slightly rough to the touch but with some nice oils present, and looks very apetizing with its dark chocolate coloring. The cap looks terrible, which is another common theme with Padron cigars from my experience. The predraw flavor is of properly aged tobacco and chocolate...loads of dark chocolate.

Right from the start this is an excellent cigar, with loads of that chocolate flavor present on the predraw, and a slight sweetness that im guessing comes from the maduro wrapper. This is a very smooth cigar, and im sure having some major age on it makes this one in particular that much more smooth. The blend is superbly balanced and the burn line couldnt be any more even. The ash is a very nice white color that holds together very well.
As i get into this cigar, the flavors become richer and the body moves into the medium/full range while remaining very smooth. That chocolatey flavor has now been joined with a bit of an espresso flavor and a touch of earth. What i find really intriquing about this cigar, is that while it has that definite Nicaraguan flavor, it doesnt have the spice i find in most Nicaraguan Puros. This is by no means a bad thing, its nice to see something unique in the mix of Nicaraguan cigars i smoke.

I am drinking a Moose Drool Brown ale with this cigar, and the malty flavors of the beer go very nicely with the chocolate i am getting out of the Padron. This would go great with any full bodied beer like a stout or a porter as well, and a beer like that would probably bring out the espresso flavor in this cigar a bit more.

So, if the thought of smoking a bar of chocolate appeals to you, then go get yourself a PAM! Yes, they are on the more expensive side, retailing for around 11 bucks for this size, and like other super premiums (Opus X, VSG, etc) there is usually a bit of a mark up making these a special occasion cigar. This cigar demands your attention when smoked with its complex and smooth flavors and deserves the high marks it gets among the cigar community.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill

Todays review is of the Cuban Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill, which measures in at 4.8 inches X 50 ring gauge. (basically a Robusto) I am trying to go into this review with an open mind, but to be honest, i have never been a fan of the Romeo Y Julieta line as a whole. Hopefully this one will join the few Romeo's i do enjoy!

The wrapper on this cigar is attractive with a nice amount of oils present to the touch. The aroma at cold is of clean tobacco. This is a nicely constructed cigar, with a very well placed triple cap. The predraw has a slight amount of resistance and is pretty much perfect and has more of that clean tobacco flavor with a little bit of a sweet woody flavor.

The flavor right away is of a dried fruit, sort of raisin like. That woody flavor i got before lighting is mingling around in this cigar as well. This is starting off with a really nice complexity that is very intriguing. There is a smoothness to this cigar that i didnt expect,a nice creamy flavor that sort of reminds me of an English Breakfast tea with plenty of milk.
This is a nice slow smoking cigar, with really consistent and complex flavors. At the halfway point, i would put this down as being on the lower end of the medium bodied spectrum. The creamyness is still there, along with a citrus zest flavor joining in with the dried fruit flavor.
Towards the end of this cigar, the flavors continues to evolve and darken up a bit, but still remain smooth and creamy. The dried fruit flavor has come back in full force and the citrus zest has disappeared and been replaced by a bit of leather and just a touch of coffee on the finish.

Overall, i really enjoyed this cigar! This joins the Cazadores as another Romeo y Julieta that i would recommend, which is odd because the Cazadores is known as a rustic, spicey knock you on your ass cigar, and this is quite the opposite with its complex and creamy flavors. To me, this is a great late afternoon cigar.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

sunday at the shop

I didnt get a chance to do any reviews this week due to a head cold, so hopefully soon i will have a new review up! I was finally over my cold today, so i decided to drive to Bull and Bear Tobacco Shop and hang out for the afternoon. I smoked one of my favorite cigars, the Tatuaje Cojonu 03, followed by an Ashton San Cristobal Supremo. Both of these are blended by Don Pepin Garcia, and by this point everyone who reads my blog knows i am a huge fan of. Overall it was a great day full of good conversation and great cigars!

Check back in the next day or 3 for my next review (still not sure what ill be reviewing,but hopefully something tasty!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break

Here we go with yet another cigar blended by master blender, Don Pepin Garcia. This time hes blending for Nestor Miranda, maker of Don Lino cigars. I couldnt really find a lot of info on this cigar, other than its a Nicaraguan puro. This is the "coffee break" size, 4.5 inches by ring gauge. This isnt the prettiest cigar to look at, with a very rustic feel to it. The wrapper is nicely applied, but has a very large ugly vein up one side.

The predraw taste is fairly mild and cedary and the draw is just right. The first few draws show a medium bodied toasty flavor with a really tasty fruit flavor (a bit like black cherry). There isnt as much spice as i expected with this cigar being from Don Pepin, but its nice to see him changing it up between different lines hes blending for. There is a very toasted woody flavor present as well. This is a very approachable cigar so far with soft creamy flavors.

At the halfway point this cigar's flavor has gone a bit south. It has gotten a little harsh flavorwise though, and to be honest, a little boring. Also, there is a bit of tar forming at the head which makes for a nasty bitter flavor, but again, like the last cigar i reviewed, i cut a bit more off the cigar and it was fine.

Overall, this definitely wasnt a favorite. I like a ton of Pepin's cigars, but this isnt one of them. Would i smoke it again? probably not.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Por Larranaga Belicoso Extra Asia Pacifico Regional Edition

Todays review is the Cuban Por Larranaga Belicoso Extra 2008 Regional Edition from Asia Pacific. Por Larranaga is a very overlooked Cuban brand that i havent smoked too many of actually. The brand is best known for the Petite Corona, which is a very tasty little cigar! This cigar measures in at 5.5 inches X 52 ring gauge.

The wrapper has a slightly uneven coloring to it, and is nice and oily. It feels a little soft, but not squishy. It is probably a little on the wet side and should have been dry boxed for a day, but i didnt think about it yesterday so oh well. The cap isnt the prettiest, and is a little sloppy, but held together fine. The bunching at the foot shows a very nicely rolled cigar.

The predraw is a little loose, but not a wind tunnel, and shows nice flavors of citrus, caramel, and a little bit of earthyness. Starting off this is a medium bodied cigar and a bit of a slow starter. The dominant flavors are a creamy caramel and citrus zest with a tiny amount of earthy flavor as well. The burn wasnt as even as i would have liked, which is probably due to a combination of the cigar being slightly wet and the breeze out on my balcony.

At the halfway point i touched up the burn a bit which stayed pretty even after that. A cinnamon like spice flavor showed up with the citrus and was a great adition to the flavor profile. Unfortunately, a bit of gooey tar showed up at the head of the cigar at this point, but a little trim with my Palio cutter got rid of that and it didnt show up again thankfully. In the final third of this smoke, a really pleasant graham cracker like flavor presented itself, with the citrus notes toning down quite a bit. The last inch or so became a bit acrid, probably due to the looser draw and youth of this particular cigar.

I enjoyed this cigar with a Fat Tire Amber Ale, but in the future i think a Hefeweizen would do really well this blend and would really make the citrus flavors pop even more.

Overall, i enjoyed this cigar, but i think if i had more of them i would let them sit for at least another year. More age would probably help round out the flavors towards the end of the smoke and due away with the harshness of the final third of this cigar. I love the belicoso vitola so it was nice to see the Por Larranaga blend in this size. If you are a fan of the Por Larranaga flavor profile, i think you would enjoy this cigar immensely, especially with another year or 2 on it. These have a ton of potential to become a very good cigar!