Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Toro

Today's review is of one of the new cigars to come out this year, the My Father Le Bijou, from Don Pepin Garcia. Le Bijou means "the Jewel." This one is the Toro size, measuring in at 6 x 52. The original My Father was made by Pepin's two children in honor of him. Pepin must have really liked this idea because this edition of the My Father is to honor his father. This is a different blend of all Nicaraguan tobacco (though I am not sure of the exact difference) with a Habano Oscuro wrapper. This wrapper really sets it apart from the other My Father line. This one is very dark and toothy and very attractive. I have been waiting to try this cigar since I first heard word about it, and when i was at the Illusione event, I noticed they had a few boxes sitting behind the counter unopened. Later that night, Dion from Illusione cigars also noticed and asked if he could get one, so they opened up the box for him. This was my chance! I convinced them to figure out the price for a single and sell me one even though they hadn't even been entered into their system yet.

Like most of Pepin's cigars, the construction on this is impeccable, with a perfectly applied triple cap. The draw is pretty much perfect, with predraw flavors of cedar and classic spicy Nicaraguan tobacco that Pepin is fond of. After lighting, velvety rich smoke really coats my palate, with full earthy flavors and a spicy finish. Even after just a few minutes, i can tell this is going to be a complex, tasty cigar. There is a certain creamy characteristic to this cigar, but not like the light milky creamy flavor that I normally think of when I call a cigar creamy. This one is more like your favorite Stout or Porter beer, a dark creamy flavor with a dark chocolate bite to it.

After the first inch or so, I heard a cracking sound and looked down to see a crack forming in the wrapper right below the second band. This does not thrill me at all. Hopefully it remains small and doesnt unravel the cigar. Thankfully, I was able to smoke through it without it being too much of an issue, but still, i hate seeing that on a premium cigar. This is a solid medium/full bodied cigar with a full, rich flavor profile.
you can see the crack by my thumb

Overall, this is definitely a cigar to keep an eye out for! I really enjoy the original My Father line, and the Le Bijou is yet another Pepin cigar I really love. This has a richer flavor profile and is very complex. I don't know if I like it more than the other My Father line, but after smoking a few more I have a feeling i might! Even with the crack in the wrapper, which I am just assuming is a fluke, I definitely recommend this smoke. These aren't cheap, i think i paid about $10.50 for this cigar. At that price this won't be one I will smoke on a regular basis, but I would definitely like to get a few more to have in my humidor.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Illusione Event/meet up with Dion Giolito

So thursday night, I happened to notice on Twitter that Dion, the man behind Illusione cigars was going to be in the Chicago area. I want to meet up with the guy behind one of my favorite cigar brand? I think you know the answer! I found out he was going to be at a shop about an hour from here called Burning Leaf Cigars. This was definitely not an opportunity to be missed!

After arriving at the shop, I was amazed. This was a brand new store, with an amazing selection and HUGE lounge, definitely worth the drive and I will be returning for sure. The event started at 5, which is about when I got there and it was already packed. There was an open bar (yes!) and catering from a fantastic BBQ place that I didn't catch the name of. The man of the night hadn't arrived yet, so I had a look around the shop and bought my cigars for the night. They were running a deal that if you bought 3 Illusiones, you got an MK free. I picked up an mj12, Cruzado Domenicos, and an 88. I started out smoking the mj12, and that's when Dion showed up. Dion has to be one of the nicest guys I've had the chance to talk to. As soon as we started talking he handed me a Cuchillos Habanos, a budget cigar he makes that is comprised of 60% long filler/40% short filler. He was extremely approachable and certainly knows his cigars! We talked about everything from cigars (surprise, i know) to beer to comparing tattoos. I was just about done smoking my mj12, when Dion hands another of his cigars, the Epernay La Ferme, which I promptly lit up and continued talking with Dion and all the other guys at the shop.

I got to talking to this guy, Justin i think? (i am terrible at remembering names) and after talking about different cigars, he goes to his locker and pulls out a Tatuaje T110, which was released only in Hawaii and hands it to me and tells me to take it home and review it! The locals at this shop were some great people!

My third and final cigar of the night was the mixed filler Cuchillos Habanos, which was pretty tasty for not being a 100% longfiller cigar. I would definitely pick up some of these for a good cigar when you want really nice flavor, but don't want to spend a ton (i think you can get 5 for around 18 bucks). This would be a great driving cigar. To finish off an already great night, Dion hands me a cigar I have been dying to get my hands on, the Nosotros. This is his new line that will be coming out in the next few months, and is a team up between him and Drew Estates. Now this particular cigar isn't just an unbanded Nosotros. When Dion was testing blends for this cigar, he had a batch made up of what ended up being the final blend, and this is from that batch. So, this is a pre production sample of a cigar that hasnt even been released yet!

Thanks again to the guys at Burning Leaf cigars for putting on a hell of an event, and of course, to the man, the myth, the legend, Dion Giolito!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Arturo Fuente Anejo no.77 (shark)

Todays review is of another Fuente Anejo, this time the rare size nicknamed the Shark. This 55/8 x 54 ring gauge cigar has a very unique shape, the top half being round, and the bottom half being box pressed. I won't go into full detail about the Anejo blend, as iv'e already reviewed an Anejo before, you can go back and read about it here if you would like.

The wrapper on this cigar is very dark with a great oily sheen and plenty of tooth. I love the unique shape of this cigar. This is a hefty cigar and is very nicely constructed.

The predraw is strait up chocolate and nicely aged tobacco. The initial flavors upon lighting are of strong espresso and velvety dark chocolate. There are tons of deep, dark flavors in this smoke, and a definite leather note that reminds me a bit of the Ashton VSG (another cigar rolled by Fuente). The burn line is slightly wavy, but nothing that needed correcting. At the halfway point there is a slight dried fruit-like sweetness, somewhere between raisins and apricots. I think that the sweet character comes from the wrapper being aged in Cognac barrels. The ash on this thing is incredible! As you can see from the picture, these are so well constructed and solid that you can stand the cigar up on its ash.

This was by far the best Anejo I have smoked! This had about 2 years of age on it and I think that helped round out this flavorful blend of aged tobacco. The wrapper really makes this cigar what it is in my opinion, adding a really nice depth of flavor. I had a Left Hand Oktoberfest with this cigar and the malty beer really worked well with this cigar. These retail for $10.25, but like most premium Fuentes, are usually found with a fairly steep markup. If I am going to smoke an Anejo, I definitely prefer the Shark!

Friday, September 11, 2009

1998 Cuban Partagas Tres Petite Corona

Todays review is of a special cigar, a 1998 Vintage Cuban Partagas Tres Petite Corona. This small cigar measures in at 4.6 x 40 ring gauge and was discontinued in 2001. The 2nd band saying 1998 was applied to mark the vintage. Hunters & Frankau, the two hundred year old exclusive UK distributors for Habanos, has selected certain cigars for a special ageing process. You pay a premium for aged stock like this, and H&F is one of the premier vendors for selling aged cigars. This was a gift from a great friend of mine and I have been waiting to smoke this cigar for some time now.

This cigar had a few water spots on the wrapper, but overall it was a very nice looking cigar. I was pleased to see a fair amount of oils still present on the wrapper considering its age. After clipping, the predraw flavor is light but of nice crisp toasty tobacco. The draw is absolutely perfect, which is a relief because I worry about the draw on small cigars like this.

After lighting, there is a ton of classic Partagas spice and cedar, its amazing how well these have aged! This cigar was so complex that I had a hard time really picking out different flavors at first. I exhaled through my nose, which I generally do not do as i don't like the way it tingles, but it brought even more flavorful spice and a really pleasant roasted peanut flavor that reminded me of creamy peanut butter.

At the halfway point this cigar mellowed out into a very solid medium bodied full flavored cigar. This had what i would consider to be a classic old school Partagas flavor.

Overall, it was a great experience to smoke an 11+ year old cigar. This is by far the oldest cigar I have had the opportunity to smoke and I was definitely not let down! It goes to show what aging can really do to a great cigar that has been stored in perfect conditions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bolivar Petite Corona

The Cuban Bolivar Petite Corona measures in at 5.1 X 42 ring, which is the standard size for a Cuban PC. This cigar has a really firm feel, which sometimes worries me with smaller cigars because that can mean they are overfilled and will have a tight draw. Thankfully this wasn't the case with this one, it had a perfect Cuban style slightly firm draw. The wrapper was pale brown, and not very oily.There were some visible veins, but Cuban wrappers aren't always the prettiest.

The predraw had a mildly sweet and floral flavor, which was unexpected on a Bolivar. Upon lighting, I was greeted with classic Boli flavors of chocolate, coffee and that great earthy flavor that I expect with this brand. That classic Cuban "twang" flavor was really nice, and if you have had any experience with Cuban cigars, you will know what I am talking about. I forgot how good these smaller Bolivars can be! The flavor is very concentrated in a smaller vitola like this, and to those that don't think that smaller cigars are worth smoking....that leaves more for me!

After about 2 inches of this cigar, leather, a touch of spice, and cedar joined the already very complex smoke. The burnline was a little on the uneven side, but with flavors like this, who cares if you have to touch it up a few times! At the tail end of this great cigar, a nice graham cracker flavor joined the mix, adding a nice sweet characteristic to balance out the richness.

Overall, the Bolivar PC is a complete flavor bomb! Anyone looking for a smaller format, quicker smoke will absolutely love this one. Small ring gauge Cubans have such a concentrated flavor and this one is no different. If you know where to get them, (which I am not going into details about for obvious reasons) these can be had for around 5.50-6 bucks a piece, which is a steal for such a flavorful cigar. You can't go wrong with Bolivar!