Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cigar in hand has moved!

I figured it was time to get a real website going, so from now on I will be posting at I hope everyone likes the new site.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Viaje Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter

Today's review is the newest release from Viaje, the Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter. This is actually the first Viaje I have had the opportunity to smoke, thanks to one of the great guys over on the BOTL forum. This was a pretty limited release cigar, with 150 boxes of 25 made. So, unless you have a box already, these might be a little hard to come across. The Skull and Bones is a Nicaraguan Puro with a Sungrown Criollo wrapper. This is a small cigar, measuring in at 4 x 54. I love the pirate theme band. When I first heard about these, I thought the packaging might be a little cheesy, but it turned out perfect.

This is nice looking cigar, with an oily dark chocolate colored wrapper and a fairly firm feel to it overall. The cap is a little sloppy, but overall, a nicely made cigar. This has a great draw, with a nice amount of resistance. If a cigar this size has a loose draw it can burn hot very quickly and pretty much ruin the cigar. The predraw flavors show cocoa and leather, a promising start. Once lit, the Skull and Bones starts with a rich cocoa and coffee flavors, with some black pepper spice on the tongue. I am loving the creamy chocolate flavors and the small amount of spice mixed in. The burn is slow and even with a slightly dark gray ash.

After the first inch or so, the cigar seems to mellow just a little bit, and the spice recedes, and a light cedar flavor joins in with the chocolate flavor that was already present. There is a nice complexity to this cigar so far. At the halfway point I would put this down as a medium bodied cigar with a very rich flavor. I knocked off the ash at the halfway point so I could take the band off, but I could tell the ash would have held on much longer if I had tried. These are definitely well made cigars! For the last third of the Skull and Bones, the black pepper returns and this cigar moves into the full bodied category. I had a feeling this thing would amp up towards the end, and it certainly doesn't disappoint! The power isn't overwhelming at all, there is still a nice balance with the rich flavors. I never had to touch up the burn, which is always a great thing to see on a cigar.

This was a great cigar. Unfortunately Ill probably never get to smoke it again due to the limited release on these. I love the rich flavors of chocolate, black pepper and cedar. These sold for $9 a piece, so it isnt a cheap cigar, but I would definitely pay that price for this cigar if I ever found them. At first when I saw how much these were compared to the size, I was thinking they were a little overpriced, but after smoking one and seeing how slow they burn and how well they perform, they are worth it. I am interested in trying some of the other cigars Viaje makes after smoking this one.

Monday, June 7, 2010

La Aurora 107

Today’s review is of the new La Aurora 107. This cigar is available in a Robusto, Belicoso, and the size I am reviewing today, a 5.5 X 54 Toro. Honestly, I do not smoke a lot of La Auroras, but I am always looking to try something new. I want my readers here to trust me, so I need to let everyone know that I received these cigars from La Aurora directly. They contacted me asking if I would be interested in reviewing this cigar, and I told them of course! However, I told them I would review this cigar honestly, and just because they sent them doesn’t guarantee a positive review!

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, onto the La Aurora 107! This cigar has a Dominican binder, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler, and an Ecuadorian wrapper. This wrapper has a slightly reddish hue, and is nice and smooth with a few veins. This is a large cigar at a 54 ring gauge, and has plenty of heft to it. The predraw shows an open draw with a definite cocoa flavor. After lighting this 107 up, it starts out with a light spice and clear leather notes. There is a really nice underlying honeycomb sweetness here as well. This cigar produces thick, chewy smoke, which I like. There is a slight tickle in the back of my throat during the first inch of this cigar; maybe it is a little young? The burn has been dead even and this is holding a very solid ash that doesn’t want to fall. Towards the end of the first third of this cigar, some cedar flavor shows up and a lot more of that honeycomb sweetness I noted earlier. Also, a citrus zest undertone joins the profile and really ties the cedar and honey flavor together.

At the halfway point, the honey and cedar flavors are in full force with very little spice present (except on the retrohale). The leather flavors that were present in the first inch or 2 have dissipated as well. This has become very smooth, and that tickle in the back of my throat has disappeared.

The La Aurora 107 was a nice surprise. This is probably my favorite thing I have smoked from La Aurora, and I would definitely smoke these again. This cigar ended up being a solid medium bodied smoke, and those cedar and honeycomb flavors were very tasty. I am not quite sure what the retail price on this cigar is, but after looking at a few places online it seems like the toro goes for about $8. For a cigar this size and with the flavor it delivers, that isn’t an unreasonable price. At that price point, there are a lot of cigars that I really like, but I could still see myself picking these up when I am in the mood for a change. I usually smoke a ton of spicy cigars, and knowing I can get that leather, cedar and honeycomb flavor out of this one is good to know.

Monday, May 31, 2010

La Reloba Seleccion Habano

Today's review is another new cigar by Don Pepin Garcia, the La Reloba. This cigar is available in two wrappers, a Sumatra, and the one reviewing today, the Habano. These are available in 4 basic sizes, a Robusto, Corona, Toro, and Torpedo. I am reviewing the Toro, which measures in at 6 X 52.

The La Reloba Habano has a fairly non descript brown wrapper with a silky smooth feel to it. Being made by Pepin, it is topped off with a nice triple cap. The predraw shows a slightly open (but not too open) draw with a dusty cocoa and slightly mustly flavor. This cigar starts out with typical Pepin spice with a hardwood undertone. After getting into this cigar a little more, a slight hay flavor shows up, but recedes quickly. The spice also recedes, leaving that hardwood/cedar flavor as the dominant characteristic to this cigar. This definitely tastes like a Pepin, almost like a lighter version of the Cuban Classic, but not as complex. The ash is nice and white, and just a little flaky. The burn is strait, even in the slightly breezy smoking conditions. A slightly vegetal undertone has shown up, but isnt necessarily unpleasant. There is also a slightly sweet flavor going on here.

This is a solid cigar, but doesn't quite "get there." It seems like something really good is just out of reach in the flavor profile. The flavors that are in the La Reloba aren't muted or anything, I just feel that some other component to the blend would have pushed this to the next level. It doesn't have that "wow" factor like some of the other newer Pepin cigars like the My Father Le Bijou or Jaime Garcia Reserva Selection. That being said, this is still a good medium bodied cigar. I picked this cigar up for right around $6, which seems fair for this cigar.

Side note: I smoked the La Reloba Sumatra at the Pepin event last week and liked it more than the Habano. That aspect to the blend I thought was missing seemed to be present in the Sumatra. It had a little more spice and complexity, so if you see either of these, definitely give the Sumatra a shot. I might grab another Sumatra to review in the future....

Have you had a chance to try either of the La Relobas?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don Pepin Garcia cigar event

Last night I had the honor of meeting up with one of the legends in the cigar industry, Don Pepin Garcia over at Burning Leaf in Plainfield. Anyone who reads this blog knows how big a fan I am of Pepin's cigars, including the My Father line, Cuban Classics, DPG Blue labels, the new Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial (ok, its his son, but it comes out of his factory)....the list goes on for a while. Not only does he make cigars under his own name, but for other companies such as Ashton, 601, and one of my favorites, Tatuaje. Speaking with Pepin (through a translator since he doesnt really speak any English) was really educational. He has been in this business for a very long time, and it shows. Because of the language barrier, he was a fairly quite and humble man, but you could tell he was enjoying himself and had a smile on his face the entire evening. He signed many boxes, shirts, humidors, even a bottle of rum, and seemed happy to do so for everyone who asked.

As for what we talked about, we started by talking about the new Jaime Garcia cigars we were smoking and how wonderful the new broadleaf wrappers are. He went on to discuss the special edition My Father cigar that will be released later this year. This cigar will be exclusively made by him and his son Jaime. Pepin will apply the wrapper to the filler/binder made up by Jaime. Only those two know about the blend of this cigar. 2,000 numbered boxes of 12 will be produced, making this a very limited release cigar. The projected price per cigar is around $20 before tax. I will definitely pick one up if given the opportunity, not only because Pepin/Jaime are making all of them themselves, but because of the unique tobacco being used; Pele De Oro, a tobacco that the Cuban government banned the use of many years ago because it is very susceptible to blue mold. Pepin acquired these seeds and planted a very small amount of this tobacco at his farms in Nicaragua. No one else is using this strain of tobacco, and from what I hear, it will be very good. This cigar will be a 6 1/2 X 52. I can't wait.
Another few tidbits of information that I picked up is that Pepin smokes around 15 cigars a day (WOW) and usually goes with the robusto. He is constantly taste testing his blends in the factory to make sure they are what they should be, hence the 15 cigars a day. I asked him if hes just smoking an inch of these 15 cigars, and he says he usually smokes half to two thirds of each to make sure they taste how they should.

I picked up a box of the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especials, which I reviewed this week. I also received a My Father shirt and 5 pack of Pepin cigars. If you ever get a chance to meet Don Pepin Garcia, I really recommend doing so. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk/smoke cigars with the man behind them is a real treat.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

Today's review is of one of the new cigars out of the My Father factory in Nicaragua, but this one is not blended by Don Pepin Garcia, but by his son Jaime. The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial is available in 5 sizes, a Petite Robusto, Robusto, Toro, Belicoso, and Toro Gordo. The one I am reviewing today is the Robusto, measuring in at 5 1/4 X 52. This is a Nicaraguan Puro with a broadleaf wrapper.

Since this cigar is coming out of the My Father factory, its not surprising that this cigar looks and feels very well made. The wrapper is perfectly applied with a triple seam cap. This dark wrapper shows a little bit of oil and just the slightest amount of tooth and no major veins. I like the new band design. The Pepin family has been coming out with some great new bands for their cigars lately.

The predraw shows some dank earth and cocoa, and a little barnyard that I actually enjoy in a cigar. The aroma off the foot also shows that very nice barnyard characteristic. The draw is pretty close to perfect, with the right amount of resistance to it. After lighting, this cigar starts off with some clean woody flavors, and a very nice spiced meat flavor as well. There is plenty of spice through the nose as well. The spice isn't as up front as a lot of other cigars coming out of Pepin's factories, but its still there. Even after an inch into this cigar I can tell this is going to be a complex smoke. The burn has been very even and the nice white ash holds on for at least an inch. Again, another very well made cigar. At the halfway point the flavors have stayed very consistent, and very tasty. There is still a ton of that meaty flavor and a little less of the hard wood. There is a little bit of sweetness underneath the meatyness. I am really liking the balance of umami and sweetness. This is a solid medium/full bodied cigar.

Blending great cigars sure runs in the blood within the Pepin family. This offering from Jaime is excellent. It isn't any secret that I am a huge fan of most of the cigars coming out of Pepin's factory, and this is no exception. This is a little lighter than the My Father Le Bijou, but also showcases that meaty flavor I like. It has some of the hallmark flavors I expect from a Pepin cigar, but certainly stands on its own with a complex blend of premium tobaccos. I was pretty surprised to see the price point of this robusto, $6.50. This is definitely worth the price of admission. There have been some very good cigars coming out this year at a very approachable price point, and this is one of them that really stands out. These should start showing up in your local stores anytime now, as well as the other new Pepin release, La Reloba. (which I will be reviewing soon!)

Have you had a chance to try any of the new cigars coming out of the My Father factory?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Liga Privada "Dirty Rat"

Today's review is of a cigar I have really been looking forward to getting my hands on, the Dirty Rat by Drew Estate. This is an extension of the Liga Privada line, and will be released sometime this year from what I have heard. This is a pre-release, and not particularly easy to come by. They have been handed out at some Drew Estate events, or directly from some of the guys working for DE. I was very fortunate to get a few to review from one of the great guys working for Drew Estate. This Corona measures in at 5X44.

This is a very nice looking cigar. Like the other Liga Privadas, this is impeccably made with a very dark, oily and toothy wrapper. I am not exactly sure what the difference in the blend is compared to the Liga 9 or T52 is, but I am under the impression that the Dirty Rat is a unique blend among the Liga Privada line. The only thing I can pretty much assume is that these are Nicaraguan Puros. (I could be totally wrong about this, sorry!) The little flag-like pigtail cap is a nice touch to an already great looking cigar. Since this cigar hasn't even been released yet, they come with a plain white band with the words Dirty Rat in simple type. Its pretty safe to say this won't be the final packaging on this cigar when it gets released.

After a clean clip with my Palio, this cigar has a slightly open draw with plenty of spice even before lighting. After lighting...WHAM! Loads of black pepper spice pretty much assault your palate. This is one potent cigar! Just after the first 5 minutes of smoking the Rat I can tell that this is not a cigar for beginners. I think the amount of spice would be a major turnoff to someone who isn't used to spicy full flavored Nicaraguan tobacco. Even I was taken aback a little bit, and I would say that the majority of what I smoke IS Nicaraguan tobacco. After the first inch, the spice backs off just a little, letting flavors of leather and dark chocolate shine through. At the tail end of this cigar, the spice returns in full force! I am really enjoying the amazing amount of fresh cracked black pepper spice this cigar showcases.

The Dirty Rat is a spicy flavorbomb of a cigar! I am really looking forward to these being released. This will make a great addition to the Liga Privada line. When I say this cigar is spicy, I am not kidding. This has to be one of the spiciest cigars I have ever smoked. The nice thing is, even with the intense spice, this cigar never gets harsh. I have no idea what the price on this cigar will be when released, but I dont care. I will be picking up a few of these for sure! I can't wait to light one of these up again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pinar Del Rio Cubano Especial Maduro Robusto

Today's review is of the new cigar from Pinar Del Rio, the Cubano Especial Maduro. I picked up a few of these at the event at Burning Leaf, smoked one at the shop, and brought another home to review. There isn't a lot of info out on this cigar yet, and I think they will be hitting shops after the trade show in August. A few boxes will be trickling out before the show though. If memory serves me correctly, Abe Flores (the man behind the cigar) said these have a Brazilian Broadleaf wrapper and a mix of Nicaraguan/Dominican tobaccos making up the rest of the cigar. He mentioned something about a special leaf in the blend, but I couldn't drag the info on this special leaf out of Abe. This robusto measures in at 5 X 52.

The wrapper is very dark and shows very nice oils. This is a very nice looking cigar! The pigtail cap is a nice touch, and Abe mentioned that his rollers aren't too thrilled with him about doing the pigtail because of the extra time it takes. The cap is very flat under the pigtail, and you can tell that great care goes into the rolling of this cigar. The prelight draw is very flavorful, with loads of earth and leather.

After lighting, this cigar takes no time at all to get going by flooding the palate with rich earth, leather, coffee...lots of dark coffee flavor. You can definitely taste the Nicaraguan tobacco in this blend. The burn is very slow and absolutely dead even. Oddly, even with the slow burn, it produces a TON of resting smoke. The ash holds on very tightly for well over an inch. This is by far one of the better maduro's ive smoked in a while.
Having a cigar with Abe Flores. Sorry about the terrible picture, it was taken from my cell phone and the lighting was terrible!

Talking with Abe about this cigar and all of his other blends was a real treat. his love for cigars is very apparent and he really cares about getting a quality product into the hands of his customers. Having the opportunity to smoke cigars with the guy behind them is something you never forget.

at the half way point, there is still loads of earth and coffee with a faint floral undertone that completely took me by surprise, as well as a dried fruit.raisin flavor. When passing the smoke through the sinuses, I pick up a nice spice note, probably from the Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler.

This is a full flavored, medium/full bodied cigar that is perfectly balanced. The biggest surprise about this cigar is the price. Get ready for it....around $4.50! I can't believe how inexpensive this cigar is considering how perfectly it performs! Abe said that the price will probably go up just a little bit when they are finally released, and I have no problem with that at all. I wouldn't think twice about spending a few more bucks on this stick, and will be buying plenty more of these as they become more readily available. Of all the Pinar Del Rio's ive smoked, this is probably my favorite. Keep an eye out for these later on this year.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tatuaje "The Frank"

Today's review is of the first cigar in the Tatuaje Monster series, The Frank. This was a very limited release in October of 2008 around Halloween, with a production of 666 Coffin shaped boxes of 13 cigars, and $13 a stick. This is a large, box-pressed cigar, measuring in at 7 5/8 X 49 (Double Corona). The Nicaraguan filler/binder is covered by a sun grown broadleaf wrapper, and has a very cool looking green Tatuaje band on it.

The wrapper is ugly, rough and veiny, exactly what a cigar named after Frankenstein's monster should look like! Like all Tatuaje's, The Frank is a solidly constructed cigar with a perfectly applied triple cap. This is a box pressed cigar, but only slightly. The predraw shows a perfect draw with a light earth and cedar flavor.

The Frank starts off with classic Tatuaje spice, earth and some cedar. This cigar is over a year old, and isn't showing any signs of youth. The flavors are very clean and crisp and very complex! The further into this cigar I get, more and more flavors are developing and building a very full flavored cigar. Black pepper, roasted nuts, a slight citrus zest flavor...there is no question about the complexity of this cigar. The wrapper leaves a slight sweet flavor on your lips which is quite pleasant. The burn is dead even and the ash seems to hold on for right around an inch. At the halfway point, a floral undertone shows up that I really didn't expect, but it works well with the flavors going on here. (wasn't there a scene in Frankenstein where he throws a girl picking flowers down a well?) By the end, this is a solid medium/full bodied cigar.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Frank! A very generous buddy of mine gifted me this one, and I can't thank him enough for the chance to smoke this very limited cigar. This was one of those cigars that I was excited about trying, but figured I wouldn't get my hands on. This cigar is going to age very well. The flavors are already quite complex, and I imagine that over even more time, they will continue to marry and develop. If you got yourself a coffin of these, count yourself lucky!

I will doing a review of the 2nd cigar in the Monster series from 2009 (The Drac) in the near future, so keep an eye out for that one!

Monday, April 26, 2010

El Cobre Churchill

Today's review is of the El Cobre Churchill. This is a private label cigar made by Oliva for a Empire Cigars in Raleigh, North Carolina. Matt from Matt's Cigar Journal sent me a few of these to try. I don't really know a lot about this particular cigar, but since its from Oliva, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is a Nicaraguan Puro.

Visually, this is a rough looking cigar. The wrapper is very nice and oily, with a dark, mottled color with a slightly reddish hue to it. The wrapper also has a rough feel to it. Construction wise this is a well made cigar with no soft spots or any other construction problems from a visual inspection. The draw is pretty much perfect and shows a very earthy flavor on the predraw.

This is one of those cigars that delivers loads of flavor right from the first draw. This is a very earthy, leathery cigar with plenty of black coffee flavors mixed in. After getting a little further into this cigar, the same flavors remain pretty consistent. This is a very rich, dark cigar. The room aroma is very strong, but not unpleasant. That being said, if you were smoking this around someone who isn't very tolerant of cigars, this is one that would get you plenty of dirty looks because of the strong aroma. The burn was starting to get a little ragged, but after a quick touch up with my torch, it has stayed pretty even. This is a solid full bodied cigar, but not too strong.

Overall, the El Cobre was a very tasty cigar. If you enjoy strait forward full bodied cigars, then this is definitely one to try. This isn't an overly complex cigar, but the flavors presented are far from boring. The heavy earth and coffee flavors are very tasty. Here is the real kicker about this cigar though, this churchill sells for $4.75! At that price, I am really happy with what it brings to the table. After smoking a few of these, I would expect to pay at least 6-7 bucks for these. For the price they go for, they are quite the bargain. There aren't many cigars for under $5 that will perform as well as this one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Epernay Le Monde

Today's review is of the Epernay Le Monde from Illusione cigars. This is the newest addition to the Epernay series, and measures in at 6 1/4 X 52. The blend used in the Epernay line first showed up in 2008 ECCJ (European Cigar Cult Journal) limited release cigar. This cigar is made up of Criollo and Corojo tobacco with a Cafe Rosado wrapper. (Side note, the Epernay is named after the heart of France's Champagne region.)

This is a beautiful cigar to look at. The very smooth wrapper has a slightly reddish hue to it, and is much lighter in color compared to the Illusione line of cigars. Like all of Dion's cigars, these are very well made with perfectly applied caps. There are a few prominent veins in the wrapper, but even so it is still very nice.

The draw is perfect on this Epernay. After lighting, it starts out nice and woody and very creamy. The burn started out a little wavy, but evened itself out after the first inch. The ash on this cigar is very dark and stays on for about an inch. This is the second one of these I have smoked, and I have found these to be a very smooth cigar. There is very little spice to this blend, which is a nice change of pace compared to the Illusiones. If I remember right, there isn't any Ligero blended into this cigar, but I could be wrong. The further I get into this Le Monde, the more I am noticing a light leather flavor joining the woody characteristic. At the halfway point, a honeylike sweetness really shines through with a light floral undertone. This is a very complex cigar!

The Epernay is yet another great cigar from Dion Giolito. This medium/full bodied cigar is full flavored and performs like a champ. At $7.95, this cigar is worth every penny. I am beginning to wonder if Dion will ever make a cigar I don't love! One thing worth mentioning, is that across all of Dion's lines,Illusione, Epernay or Cruzado, I never have any issues with construction, draw or flavor. While the burnline might wander a little bit, I never have any complaints about his cigars. There are very few cigar manufacturers that I can say that about.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Liga Privada no.9 Flying Pig

Today's review is of the Drew Estates Liga Privada no.9 Flying Pig. This very uniquely shaped cigar measures in at 4 x 60. (60 ring measured at the middle) Apparently one of the guys at Drew Estates saw it in a picture of a 1895 size chart from a cigar salesman case and decided to put it into production with a slightly modified Liga Privada no.9 blend (Nicaraguan).

The Flying Pig is a very interesting cigar. This is not a ring size I really gravitate towards, but this one seemed very unique. Since I really enjoyed the other Liga Privadas, I figured it would be worth trying. The Connecticut Broadleaf Ligero wrapper is amazingly dark and oily, and reminds me of what fresh espresso beans look like when I open up a bag at work. The Pigtail cap on this cigar is one of the coolest I have ever seen. This one actually curls around like an actual pigs tail! This is a very attractive cigar, even with the larger ring gauge.

The predraw shows a nice draw with just the right amount of resistance I expect from a pefecto, and a leathery and cedar flavor. After lighting, there is an immediate array of flavors mingling around. Definite notes of toasted cedar, strong leather and mocha. After getting into this cigar a little more, some black cracked pepper joins in with all the other flavors. The burn was a little uneven at first, but sometimes perfectos can be a little wavy starting out. This is a full bodied cigar, but not overwhelmingly so at all. I am impressed with how well this stubby little thing is performing! The burn evened out and the construction is very solid. I bet if I really tried, I could get the ash to hold on for damn near the entire length of the cigar, but I don't feel like ending up with a lap full of ash so I won't be trying that today.

The Liga Privada Flying Pig is a very nice cigar. This is no gimmick, which I could see some people thinking because of the unique size. The Pig is full bodied and very full flavored. They are beautifully made and show a complex array of flavors of leather, mocha, cedar and spice. Drew Estates has really nailed it with this blend. Between this and the Liga Privada T52, I am impressed. The ring gauge is a little bit over the top for me, but I would definitely smoke this again given how it delivers on flavor. These are available in limited quantities, so If you see them, give it a shot! At $12 bucks, they aren't cheap, but It seems fair considering how hard these are to roll.

What have your experiences been with the Flying Pig?