Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A fond farewell to my favorite smoking companion

My sweet golden girl, Charlie, has ended her struggle with cancer (3/11/03-11/19/14).  Enjoying a fine cigar in my yard, patio, porch, and garage will never be the same.  Love you, Charlie.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Been sick

Not so many posts lately, I know.  Got pneumonia, so I'm taking things slowly for awhile. I've got a lot of great cigars  waiting to be tasted and reviewed, so I'm hoping it won't be too long until you get to read those.

I was the first person to mention the Swisher / Drew Estate pending acquisition, and look what I've stirred up.  Just wow!  I suppose I didn't expect it to go down like that because I just assumed the press release would have gone out shortly after I mentioned it on BOTL.  JD himself was apparently irritated by it, and for that, I'm sorry.  My source is a very reliable member of the industry, and I still believe he knows what he's talking about.

My question remains unanswered even in speculation:  what does this mean to the Liga Privada brands?

10/20/14 UPDATE:
A few good links:


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big news! Drew Estate sells out to Swisher!


First, Toraño goes to General, now this..  I'm a little concerned.  Are you?  

What will happen to my favorite: Liga Privada?

I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Supremo EXL (toro)

This is a cigar that hadn't been on my radar.  It was given to me by an acquaintance who said that they are at the very top of his rotation.  A search online yielded very limited information, so I contacted the tobacconist who imports them exclusively.  

Jim Simon is the proprietor of Hill & Hill Tobacconists in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan (outside of Detroit).  Jim explained to me that SupremoEXL is not a private label, but that he owns a factory in the Dominican Republic with 10 rollers and 1 master blender that have been making this line for the past 14 years.  The tagline of the brand, if you will, is that they're "rolled like no other cigar."  Jim claims that this it the best cigar he's had in 48 years in the business.  Apparently, part of the secret behind this special roll is that the filler tobacco is used in wider widths.  These cigars are designed to burn longer than similarly sized cigars from different brands.  There are currently 6 sizes.  They are as follows: 4-1/2 x 45, 5 x 52, 6 x 52 (which was the cigar I sampled, and the #1 seller), 7 x 52, 7 x 60 (torpedo), and the newest size which has been sold for only the last 20 weeks, is the 6-1/2 x 60.  Both the torpedo and the newest size are rolled with 7 long filler leaves, as opposed to the 5 that go into the other sizes.  The cigars are true maduros, unlike several out there that are treated with dyes to get their dark appearance. 

Jim mentioned that nearly two years ago, a man and woman entered the store looking specifically for the SupremoEXL.  While that's not uncommon at Hill & Hill, when pressed for information about the gentleman they were shopping for, they explained that they were President Bill Clinton's Press Secretary and Pilot, who were sent to the store to buy two units of SupremoEXL for the former President of the United States.  

So, how does it smoke?  I've only had this one stick so far, so hopefully Jim Simon sends a couple sizes (vitolas)  my way for me to try out.  The cigar came surrounded by a cedar wrapper and cellophane.  It has a simple gold and black band, and a nice dark brown colored wrapper.  The sweet pre-light scent of molasses and raisins raised my expectations.  I used a punch cut and one of my trusty Xikar torches. 

1/3: The cigar started off very pleasantly.  Lots of smoke present.  The burn line is quite decent.  Some veins are noticeable, but no problem for the burn.  The wrapper has a nice oiliness to it.  

2/3: I picked up some spice in the 2nd third.  The cigar is medium-bodied, medium-strength.  

3/3: In the final third, the SupremoEXL gets meatier.  The burn line started to get slightly jagged, and the ash turned a bit flakey.  

Flavors throughout were a little muddled, but definitely pleasant.  I certainly wish I had a few more to spend some time with, as it was a little challenging to point out specific flavor notes.  All in all, it was a good cigar that I look forward to trying again sometime. Thanks to Mr. Simon for spending the time with me to explain the background of this particular brand of Dominican cigar. 

5/21/15 UPDATE: I never heard from Jim Simon again.  He never sent me those samples, and I don't plan on heading up to Michigan to buy cigars.  I'm interested to hear about others' experiences with this smoke, so hit me up if you get to experience one.

Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: unknown
Binder: unknown
Filler: unknown
Price: $10.95

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alec Bradley Black Market (toro)

I'm surprised at myself that I'd gone this long without trying the Alec Bradley Black Market.  I'm not the biggest fan of Alec Bradley cigars, but these are big sellers, which suggests that there are plenty of people out there who enjoy them.  I've got no problem investing an hour and half with a new cigar (at least one that's new to me). 

Note:  I sometimes hear people referring to Alec Bradley as "him" or "he."  Many know this, but Alec and Bradley are Alan Rubin's two son's names.   The new Lineage cigar (an offshoot of the Family Blend) is a tribute to the both of them.  I happen to enjoy both the original Family Blends and the Lineage. 

The cigar comes with the band you see below, which is underneath a large piece of paper with branding on it.  Pre-light scent of rich chocolate.  Minor veins are seen in the wrapper. I used a punch cut on the triple cap, and sadly it caused the cap to split a little bit.  It fortunately did not turn out to be a problem for me.  I toasted the foot with a torch, and readied myself for the experience of a new stogie.

1/3: The flavor of cedar is what caught my attention first.  Medium in body and strength, the 1st third is quite pleasant and smooth.  There's a small wave in the burn line, but hey, they can't all be razor straight.  Unfortunately, the cigar tunneled a bit, but nothing too bad that wasn't able to fix itself eventually.  Near the end of the 1st third, I picked up mild pepper and a light citrus or lemon grass flavor.

2/3: The 2nd third saw the shift from lemon grass to orange peel.  The smoke also seemed to get thicker.  Mild pepper showed up again as it transitioned into the final third.

3/3: The cigar strengthens in the last third.  I also noticed more of a presence through the nose.
Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Panamanian and Honduran

Saturday, July 5, 2014

La Antiguedad by My Father (robusto)

I can describe this cigar very simply.  While similar in build and appearance to its older brother, the Flor de Las Antillas (both made by My Father Cigar Co.), it is stronger and bolder.  That's precisely what I wanted when I smoked the Flor de Las Antillas, which was the #1 cigar in Cigar Aficionado in 2013.  The FdLA was consistent, but a little boring to me, and it lacked some strength.  La Antiguedad provides the solid construction that the FdLA has, but it packs more power.

The cigar is oval box-pressed.  Like the FdLA, it has a beautiful appearance, and an artistic, detailed band.  I paired this stick with a nice cup of black coffee.  I cut with a punch, and lit up with a torch.

1/3: Lots of dry smoke right from the get-go.  The draw is very good.  Unlike many in the My Father series, there is absolutely no sign of a pepper burst to get things started.  As I said before, there are similarities to the FdLA, but it's fuller-bodied.  My palate picks up notes of leather, cocoa, and coffee.

2/3: Still plenty of smoke to be had in the 2nd third.  The coffee flavor is dominant here.

3/3: More flavors of black coffee, and the introduction of milk chocolate make their way to my taste buds.  With just under 2 inches left to go, the cigar went out, which was disappointing.

This cigar is worth a try.  I know I'd like to try another sometime.  I've recommended it to friends who liked the FdLA, and nobody's complained.  

Size: 5-1/4 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaragua (Criollo & Corojo)
Filler: Nicaragua

Friday, June 27, 2014

Camacho Diploma (robusto)

This is the older label version of the Camacho Diploma.  I've had it in my humidor for several years.  I've been smoking cigars for nearly two decades, but it wasn't until about 5 or 6 years ago that I started getting more serious about them to the point where I wanted to know the details and keep track of what I tasted.  In fact, this blog was really created for that sole purpose.  It seemed more fun than just creating another spreadsheet.  Anyways, the Camacho Diploma was a cigar that a local tobacconist had recommended to me right around that time 5 or 6 years ago.  I liked the look of the cigar itself as well as the classy looking band (which recently changed).  Unfortunately for me, the cigar really kicked my behind that evening.  So much so, that even as my tastes in cigars changed (and shifted more to fuller-bodied cigars), I kept finding other cigars to review, while the Diploma sat in my humidor, repeatedly being passed over.  Not all cigars age well, so this summer seemed like as good a time as any to give her another try.  On the band, it says: Quinto Corte.  That's Spanish for 5th Priming.  The blender for the Diploma was Christian Eiroa. 

Pre-light scent of molasses from the wrapper, and especially from the foot.  Punch cut/torch to light.

1/3: Bold pepper is present at the start.  The draw had too much resistance, so I rolled the cigar in my hands gently to get it to loosen up, and that helped somewhat.  At a half inch in, there's some real "bite," and an uneven burn makes me wonder where this thing is going to go.  I decided to get something to drink, and my selection was Ginger Ale.  It's certainly a full-bodied, full strength stick.  The smoke just sort of coats the palate.  Towards the end of the first third, I pick up some wood flavor.

2/3: The draw seems to be normal at this point.  The cigar is also burning quicker.  I read somewhere that these cigars are packed a little more loosely than what's typical. There's a slightly unique tobacco taste present.

3/3: It's surprisingly mellow as I transition into the final third of the Diploma.  There's still some boldness to it, but it is fortunately not at all bitter or charry.  The burn line isn't perfect, but it has improved.  As I've noticed in many Camacho cigars, if you're not careful, the nicotine will come up from behind and smack you.   
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Honduras (Authentic Corojo)
Binder: Honduras (Authentic Corojo)
Filler:  Honduras (Authentic Corojo)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Illusione R Rothchildes

Now here's a nice little prize!  Illusione puts this little guy out for $3.99 a stick.  This size is perfect for when you just don't have a few hours to kill, but want a premium smoke that you don't have to smoke halfway and leave sitting on an ashtray.  I'm not one for relighting cigars that have been sitting for more than a few minutes, but not everyone's like me.  This cigar is nice and leathery, with a deep brown-colored wrapper.  Some veins are visible, cause, well... leaves have veins, don't they?  I'm still in the habit of opting for the punch cut, so I removed a circular piece of the cap, toasted the foot, and dove right in.

1/3: Woodiness is the first flavor I pick up on.  It's pretty heavy at first too.  Then comes the cocoa. 

2/3: Milk chocolate catches my attention at the beginning of the 2nd third.  There's creaminess present, and the draw is quite good.  At it's strongest, this cigar is medium-strength so far.

3/3: In the final third, the Rothchildes is fuller, bolder, and slightly meaty. 

At this price point and size, I've purchased a handful of these little sticks and enjoyed them throughout the summer.  Good stick and at good price.  Go get you some!
Size: 4-1/2 x 50
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler:  Nicaragua

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Illusione mk Ultra

I'm a fan of the Illusione 88 and MJ12.  mk Ultra came recommended, so why not?  The wrapper is veiny, with a milk chocolate coloring.   I used a small punch cutter and a torch on the foot.  I paired this cigar with some brandy.

1/3: Strong leather notes start this Illusione off. Unfortunately, the burn is rather uneven. It seems to have corrected itself at nearly an inch in. I've seen it compared to the Dirty Rat by Drew Estate (Liga Privada). The ash is not very attractive, in fact it is rather ugly and flaky. The draw, however is pretty good.  Pepper flavor presents itself at about an inch in, along with some floral notes. I'm getting a slight irritation on the roof of my mouth. As I approach the 2nd third, the strength and flavor mellows out, then all of the sudden...

2/3: Bang! It's now burning my tongue a little.  Where did that come from?  A few re-lights are necessary to keep things moving along.  

3/3: More black pepper in the final third.  This stick had become fuller-bodied, and that's very evident at this point.  
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size: 5.1 x 42 

Inch by E.P. Carrillo #62

So much for my review of the Inch...  My review notes somehow disappeared, so I can only comment on what I remember.  I wanted to like the cigar, because E. P. Carrillo makes a decent smoke.  I'm not a huge fan of the the super-chunky ring gauges (60+), but I'm also not opposed to mixing things up every so often.  That said, I remember this cigar not being anything special.  I recall that there was a strong cedar flavor, and that the draw was pretty loose. Others have said that they loved it, so maybe I need more than one stick to draw a solid conclusion.

I'm uploading this post in hopes of adding on to it at a later date, but who knows when I'll buy another one...  If Ernesto Perez-Carrillo (or his daughter, Lissette) wants to send me a couple, I'd be happy to smoke 'em!

Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Corjo and Criollo ’98
Size: 5.0 x 62

Nat Sherman Timeless 556

I haven't smoked a Nat Sherman cigar in close to 16 years.  The new branding caught my attention, so I picked up the box-pressed, oval shaped 556.  The smell (pre-light) had a sweetness to it.  I went for a punch cut and toasted the foot, as per my usual ritual. 

1/3: The draw was on the loose side.  The sweetness recognized pre-light is also coming through during the 1st third.

2/3: In the 2nd third, some pepper shows up.  At this point, I would classify this cigar as being medium-bodied.

3/3: I don't always smoke my cigars all the way down, but this time I nubbed it.  It required a few re-lights/touch-ups throughout to keep producing nice clouds of smoke and to keep things burning smoothly.

Overall it was an enjoyable cigar, however I was not overly impressed, which is of some surprise to me as it was ranked #10 by Cigar Aficionado, and while I don't put a ton of stock in what CA's tasters have to say (everyone has different tastes, obviously), I do find myself wanting to try some of the cigars that they rate highly. 

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.0 x 56

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

La Palina Maduro 52

This tripled-capped beauty is the Maduro version, released in 2012.  I've smoked a few La Palinas, and I like them!  La Palina is a revival of The Congress Cigar Company’s flagship brand from the late 1800′s.  Bill Paley is the man responsible.  The Mexican San Andres wrapper showed off a nice sheen, thanks to the oils present in the leaf.  Veins were visible, but subtle.  The cigar looks prestigious with that shiny, gold band against the deep, dark chocolate-shaded wrapper.  Sure looks tasty!  I used a punch cut, and a torch to toast the foot, in hopes of getting a good burn.

1/3: Very smokey!  There's plenty of strength in the La Palina, but it's not acidic at all.  Predominant notes of pepper and leather.  Near the end of the 1st third, the burn went on a small run.

2/3: After doing a quick touch-up, the burn was otherwise fairly good.  The cigar is weighted nicely, and is of solid construction, which gives it a good feel in my hand.  Predominant flavors present here of leather and black coffee.

3/3: More coffee and some earthiness finish off the La Palina Maduro 52. 
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Honduran
Filler:  Nicaraguan tobacco (mixture of Corojo and Criollo)
Size: 5 x 52 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado Sueño (Robusto)

I've had this cigar in the humidor for a couple of years now, I believe.  Finally gave it a shot.  I decided to use a straight cut, and one of my trust Xikar torches.  Veins are present in the Sumatra wrapper, and the color is a nice shade of brown. 

1/3:  Nutty taste and milk chocolate notes.  Of course, some cedar taste is present.
2/3 - 3/3: More of the same.

This is definitely a mini-review here.  The cigar was medium-bodied, but due perhaps to the humidor time, I didn't catch a lot of complexity here.  It was a decent smoke, but didn't blow me away, nor did it turn me off.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, I suppose.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua
Size: 5-1/4 x 54 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rocky Patel The Edge Habano (toro)

Rocky has so many labels out there, it is getting difficult to keep track of them.  When my palate was into lighter-bodied smokes, the Edge Lite was my go-to cigar.  From there, I have enjoyed the Edge Sumatra, and I was excited to try the Habano, since it happens to be a Nicaraguan puro!
Pre-light sniff revealed a traditional tobacco scent.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I used a punch, and quickly became concerned because the draw was really loose (pre-light).  After toasting the foot, and allowing the cigar to do its thing, I ended up not experiencing any issues.  The draw was on the looser side, however once lit, the resistance was acceptable. 

1/3: Predominantly cedar in the 1st third.  Decent burn line, draw corrected itself.  No need for touch-ups or relights so far.

2/3: Thicker smoke is present in the 2nd third.  The experience is very pleasant.  Mild-medium strength at this point. 

3/3: Still no relights or touch-ups.  Notes of spice and pepper become more noticeable in the final third.  Sadly, towards the end, this stick got moist and meaty.  I would try this one again sometime. 
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size:  6.0 x 52

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Curivari Buenaventura BV560

It's been awhile since I've smoked one by the boutique cigar maker, Curivari.  They've been in the States for close to 4 years now, but had a presence across the pond since around 2003.  The Buenaventura (meaning: Good Fortune) was first introduced at the IPCPR 2012 trade show.  It was introduced to me by one of the owners of my favorite B&M.  She explained to me that it was priced very well, and at less than $6 per stick, that's true!  It happens to be a Nicaraguan puro (all tobacco grown in Nicaragua) which tends to be something I like.  Cigar Aficionado just so happened to rate it a 94.  The stick is an attractive one, with a nice wrapper and an oval box-press shape.  They say that the box-press was originally made so that sailors wouldn't risk having their cigars roll around on deck.  I cut it with my punch, and used a torch to toast the foot.

1/3: A slightly unusual taste kicked things off with the Buenaventura, although it was pleasant nonetheless.  This cigar give off plenty of smoke.  The burn line is decent, although not perfect.  Definitely tasting some creaminess here.

2/3: This is a consistent smoke into the 2nd third.  A few relights were necessary.  Some leather, some nuttiness; the flavors remain fairly consistent from third to third. 

3/3: A few more relights into the final third.  The stick got slightly chewy as well. 

This is a nice stick (at a fair price) for when you want to mix things up a little bit.  I don't see myself stocking the humidor with them, but it was a nice change of pace.
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size:5-1/2 x 56

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Romeo Bocados Gorditos by Romeo y Julieta

I don't smoke a ton of stuff from Altadis, but I found a nice closeout price on this size of Romeo.  This cigar is supposed to be an entirely new blend, and it is also a stronger one.  That caught my interest.  This particular size appears to be more limited, based on some research I have done.  The wrapper has a nice oily sheen to it, and some veins are visible.  The cigar is tight and compact, but still allows for a good draw.  The pre-light draw has a pleasant taste.  I cut it with my punch, and toasted the foot.  I chose to pair this smoke with lemonade.

1/3: Initial taste reveals pepper and mild leather.  The burn line is slightly uneven.  The cigar has a nice weight to it.  

2/3: More of a meaty presence, towards the back of the mouth in the 2nd third.  A touch-up was necessary  to fix the uneven burn, which had started to get worse.  

3/3: Cedar notes are present in the final third.  For the closeout price of $3.99, I think I got my money's worth, however I'm not making plans to purchase a box. 
Wrapper: Select Dark Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican Piloto
Filler: Dominican Piloto and Olo
Size:4.0 x 60

Saturday, April 26, 2014

HC Series Maduro Belicoso

Another release from Xikar, the Kansas City company that brings you cigar accessories with lifetime warranties, the cigar being smoked is the lower-price point, HC Series Maduro.  Jesus Fuego is the man responsible for this blend. 

Anyways, this cigar has a beautiful appearance.  The Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers are draped in an oily, leathery wrapper that looks quite enticing.  I opted to pair this stick with a sweet, caffeinated ginger soda (Ale 8 - tasty stuff!).  I used my V-cutter, and toasted the foot before taking my first draw.

1/3: Right off the bat, the cigar gives off plenty of smoke.  It is certainly an admirable start to a "budget" cigar.  If it proves to smoke well all the way through, I could see myself having several on-hand.  Makes me wonder how my favorite vitola stacks up (robusto size).  The taste is a typical mild tobacco one.  I wonder if my choice in beverage was not well thought out, because I'm tasting mostly soda, and struggling to identify tasting notes of the cigar.  I think I'll need to sample another one...

2/3: Same experience as in the 1st third.  The combination of strong soda and the cold Wisconsin air (yeah, I smoked this one before the weather really started to warm up) are playing with my taste buds.  The stick did require a re-light in the 2nd third, but at this point, I think I've decided to try this one again under different circumstances.  I've heard that the flavor may be lacking a little in these smokes, but I will reserve judgment until I've tried another. 

3/3: Too cold outside to finish it. 
Wrapper: Habano Connecticut Oscuro
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Size: 6.0 x 54

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nica Rustica El Brujito (toro) by Drew Estate

Somehow, I can't find my notes on this one.  It's by Drew Estate, so it's certainly worth consideration in the local humidor.  I recall that I enjoyed this stick, and that it was a little different than the normal cigar, but again, I can't find my tasting notes.  Oh well, guess I'll have to try another one soon!  Bummer...
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