Staff Picks

Our hard-working staff is busy smoking dozens of cigars, so you don't have to! Each week, they choose their favorite stick from the bunch.
Viva La Vida Diademas Finas LE 61/2 * 52
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The Viva La Vida exudes an amazing first impression with its unique mardi gras full length cigar wrapper -- one cannot resist!! This Diademas shape is one of my favorites. This cigar is a Nicaraguan Puro made at the AJ Fernandez factory. Viva La Vida translates as Live the Life and this full strength cigar definitely delivers. It has an Oscuro Habano wrapper with binder that is spicy Corojo 99 and filler compromised of sweet and nutty Criollo 98. Very unique!! Upon first light, pepper and spice jumps out with earthiness followed right along with a nice sweetness and leather notes. I find great smoke output so far --definitely a medium plus in strength. Into the second third, a buttery cinnamon taste appears along with pepper and nutty notes. Earthiness is still lingering at this point. Construction is perfect right now. Into the final third, a nice mesquite note is swirling about along with some coffee notes and a hint of licorice. This smoke ended in a full flavor/full strength cigar. It also had very nice complexity throughout. I give it an A plus -- perfect draw, burn and ash-- no construction issues whatsoever. Definitely recommend a try -- great performance, consistent flavors, complex and tasty!! Enjoy Picked on 03/19/2020
Joaquin Ortiz
TASTE:Natural
HOBBIES:Diving, tennis, the beach, boating, music & computers
STRENGTH:Medium-Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Acid Yellow
Partagas
Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Natural
Alec Bradley Tempus
La Galera 1936 Box Pressed

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Davidoff Year of the Rat 2020 Toro 6 * 52
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Last month, I attended the Procigar Festival 2020, which was held in Santiago, Dominican Republic. One of the gifts I received for attending was the limited-edition Davidoff Year of the Rat. To celebrate the Year of the Rat, Davidoff released 10,000 boxes of 10 cigars per box for worldwide distribution. This cigar has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a binder from Nicaragua, but they used a mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic filler. The wrapper is loaded with oils and the cigar is firm to the touch with a slightly spongy foot. The cold draw revealed earthy notes and an abundance of grass while the aroma off the foot was earthy with subtle notes of oak and white pepper. Once lit, oak notes from the aroma showed up instantly on the palate with a touch of white pepper. During the first third, the oak notes continued to be the focal point of the Year of the Rat with some subtle spices. Around the first inch of the cigar, a fig sweetness began to develop. As the first third came to a close, some notes of ginger lingered on the finish. The retro hale had notes of oak and a moderately short finish. In the second third, notes of oak developed with some dark chocolate components. The ginger experience in the first third disappeared around the halfway point with some cinnamon on the retro hale. The finish of the cigar grew in duration with some saltiness on the lips. In the final third, the oak notes returned in full force. It was the dominant flavor profile from the secondary band right until there was nothing left to hold. The finish of the cigar was joined by espresso with the addition of the retro hale and it had a little kick. During the entire smoke, this cigar showed a beautiful light gray ash and excellent draw. This is a cigar for a special occasions or celebrations, enjoy. Picked on 03/19/2020
Cesar Crespo
TASTE:Everything
HOBBIES:Motorcycles, cars, music, working out, and enjoying quality cigars
STRENGTH:Medium-Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Oliva Serie V Melanio
Arturo Fuente Don Carlos
Southern Draw Jacobs Ladder
Ashton VSG
EP Carrillo La Historia

Flor de las Antillas TAA Lancero 71/2 * 38
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Time to start the morning the right way. Coffee, check. Flor de las Antillas TAA Lancero, check. This beautifully rolled Nicaraguan puro lancero was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tobacconist's Association of America (TAA). In 2012, its toro-sized cousin was ranked #1 Top 25 Cigars of the Year by Cigar Aficionado. The name was chosen as a tribute to Cuba, which is often referred to as the flower of the Antilles. This Nicaraguan puro is composed of various sun-grown, Cuban-seed tobacco hand rolled at the My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. On top of the milky chocolate wrapper is one of the most detailed and elegant bands ever designed. Pre-light draw produces some leathery and earthy notes. The draw is on point. Neither too loose nor too tight. The first third starts off with some leather, sweet tobacco notes and a rich creamy nuttiness. There's a slight black pepper spice on the back end. Midway in the first third there's a notable woodsy flavor accompanied by the creaminess that has made Flor de las Antillas a staple in my rotation. The second third has kept a similar profile with the slight difference of the black pepper notes being more notable, especially on the retro hale. The creaminess and nuttiness are still there shining. The burn line is razor sharp. By the last third, the creamy and nutty notes lose themselves behind the leathery, earthy and spicy notes. Construction was flawless. No touch ups needed. The cigar maintained itself medium in strength and medium to full bodied in flavor. For years I've been a fan of Flor de las Antillas' toro vitola, but I have to say I appreciate this blend even more after trying it as a lancero. Picked on 03/11/2020
Jose Alonso
TASTE:All
HOBBIES:Watching movies, listening to music, spending time with family, reading, writing, photography
STRENGTH:Any

FAVORITE BRANDS
Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real
Davidoff 702 Series
Liga Privada Unicos

FOLLOW
Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan Shamrock 6 * 50
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They say that there is a wee bit of Irish in all of us around St. Patrick’s Day. Well, it must be true, because this year I was lucky enough to pick up the Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan Shamrock. This limited-edition cigar is a unique find because its eye-catching barber pole wrapper uses three leaves instead of two. This beautiful wrapper uses a candela, habano maduro, and a habano seco leaf: all from Honduras. The wrapper is a little toothy with barely visible seams. Underneath is a binder and filler whose origins were not released. I could go on about the wrapper, but to sum it up, it was so beautiful that I almost did not want to light up the cigar. A gentle squeeze test denoted a solid construction with just enough give. The pre-light sniff test of the foot and body revealed a pleasing no-nonsense tobacco aroma. The cold draw let me know I was in for a spicy ride. Once lit, the first few puffs confirmed its spiciness and left a tingling sensation on my lips. The finish was peppery, and it lingered. Midway into the first third, the spice tapered down a little and I started to get some of that awesome tobacco flavor which later transitioned into an earthy note. In the second third, the spice came back but this time it was not as prominent. The tobacco and earth flavors served as a foundation to support the spice. In the final third, the spice did fade away and let the tobacco flavor take center stage. Overall, the draw was so effortless that I had to check the foot twice to make sure this Shamrock was still lit. The smoke was light and blue. The burn was on point requiring no touch up, but the ash leaned a little on the dark side. As for strength, it fell between medium and full. I was hoping the Shamrock would have more complexity in terms of flavor but trust me it did not deter me from enjoying of this exceptional stick. I’d recommend the Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan Shamrock to the cigar enthusiast who wants a great smoke to go with th Picked on 03/10/2020
Rene L.
AGE:33
TASTE:Wood, Earth, Leather
HOBBIES:Guitar, Beer, Sarcasm
STRENGTH:Medium/Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Liga Privada No. 9
Padron 1964 Anniversary Maduro
Tatuaje Miami Seleccion del Cazador
Kristoff GC Signature Series
Eiroa CBT Maduro

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Muestra de Saka Exclusivo 6 * 52
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The cigar industry can be quite the lion's den. Everyone is in friendly competition with each other, conjuring up impressive packaging and trying to create a cigar better than the last. Certain individuals have earned an esteemed pedigree throughout the years in regards to releasing quality smokes, and one of them is undoubtedly tobacco guru Steve Saka. The mastermind behind the revered Liga Privada line (among others), Saka knows a thing or two about cigar blends, and the Muestra de Saka Exclusivo easily continues that reputation. Made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, this simple looking stick arrives in a classy wooden coffin and sports only a small yellow footer band at its end. Upon lighting, I instantly enjoyed a sweet earthy flavor that later opened up and gave way to nutty notes about halfway through. Some may classify the cigar as full-bodied, but I myself found the strength to hover around medium. This may be partially due to the smoothness that this stick exhibits, another Steve Saka trademark. Approaching the end, the nutty earthy notes remained while introducing a slight citrus flavor that gave the experience the proverbial cherry on top. Of course, as expected, construction was impeccable and no relights were needed. I whole-heartedly recommend the Muestra de Saka Exclusivo to any smoker looking for a premium cigar that is guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. Pair with a nice Scotch, and ENJOY. Picked on 03/02/2020
RJ Clyne
TASTE:Creamy, chocolate, cinnamon
HOBBIES:Making money and writing poetry
STRENGTH:Mild to medium

FAVORITE BRANDS
Ashton Symmetry
Arturo Fuente Magnum R
The Oscar Maduro
H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez

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Deadwood Crazy Alice Robusto 41/2 * 52
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At a first glance I see exactly how this cigar got its name, Deadwood Crazy Alice. It has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper which is usually an indicator of a full-bodied cigar, but of course this petite corona is mild to medium. I did not notice the aroma, because of the overwhelming taste of honey from the few puffs. The blend is an array of sweetness mixed with subtle undertones of spice, a dash of pepper, and coffee beans. This smoke makes for a very unique Connecticut Broadleaf that comes equipped with a strong whiteish grey ash. It is easy to smoke and is not too heavy on nicotine. This corona, standing a little over 4inches, is the epitome of short and sweet. With an even burn all the way through towards the end, the acidity of the flavors increases, but does not overwhelm the pallet as the sweetness is consistent throughout. In the last third, the flavors neutralize, yet the honey spreads like a wildfire to finish the cigar. A very enjoyable smoke for an amateur, the wife as well as for a big cigar aficionado looking to break the monotony of the traditional every day blend. Picked on 03/02/2020
George P.
TASTE:All. Except soft
HOBBIES:Smoking good cigars, watching movies, Jazz music, spending time with family
STRENGTH:Medium , Medium to full, Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Oliva Serie V
La Flor Dominicana Limited Edition
Espinosa Habano
CAO Flathead
New World
Asylum 13 Ogre
La Galera Habano
CLE Prieto

Rocky Patel A.L.R. Second Edition Sixty 6 * 60
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Rocky Patel has always been known for making good quality and good tasting cigars. He did not disappoint with his new creation, the Rocky Patel ALR Second Edition. This cigar packs a good punch. At first glance, the nice dark wrapper calls your attention. But once you light it and start to smoke it, the flavor and strength will really grab you. It has a Mexican San Andres wrapper, which to those that have smoked it before, know that there is a good amount of strength there. Its binder is Nicaraguan. The filler is also Nicaraguan, coming from Esteli and Jalapa. At first light, you are introduced to a great full body taste. Some hints of pepper and cedar are introduced. It continues through the halfway point where now a woody taste is introduced. The pepper does diminish a bit, but is still present. Towards the end, some hints of creaminess are present. The burn was even throughout. I would recommend this cigar to those who are looking for a great tasting full-body smoke. Picked on 02/19/2020
Marianela Mena
TASTE:All
HOBBIES:Reading, running and smoking good cigars
STRENGTH:Medium-Full and Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Liga Privada T52
Ashton VSG
Tatuaje Miami Seleccion del Cazador
Eiroa Classic
Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo
Aging Room Quattro F55

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Davidoff Millennium Robusto 51/4 * 50
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Davidoff has been one of my favorite brands for some time now. High quality and luxury is associated with this brand, and one does not always realize all the little details and uncompromised effort that make this possible. The soil, the seed, the leaves, are all meticulously selected, and the entire process of aging the tobacco, making the cigars, transporting and distributing them is as scrupulous and precise as a Swiss watch. I once had the privilege to visit their factory and I have seen first-hand how important it is to deliver a high end product. The respect and appreciation I have for this brand is on another level now. Having tried most of the Davidoff lines, I can say for sure that the Millenium is my favorite. The complexity, the strength and the flavor profile is always satisfying and perfect for my palate. The dark brown Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper creates a beautiful contrast with the pristine white Davidoff label. The Millenium starts with nutty and cedary notes, with some sweetness and some spice that gives the cigar an interesting twist; they compete and compliment each other at the same time. The second third is all about coffee, wood, and caramel, bold but smooth and subtle like a powerful symphony created with the most delicate notes. In the last third the sweetness remains, with the pepper and the nuttiness upfront accompanied by cedar in the background. Flawless construction, perfect draw, beautiful burn line... As perfect as only Davidoff can be. Picked on 02/05/2020
Luz Normand
TASTE:Earthy, Pepper
HOBBIES:Cooking, Reading, Traveling
STRENGTH:Medium

FAVORITE BRANDS
Arturo Fuente
La Aurora Preferidos Cameroon Platinum
Tatuaje Black Label
Montecristo Espada
Crowned Heads Headley Grange

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Nat Sherman Timeless Prestige Hermoso 51/2 * 54
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This Dominican stogie by Nat Sherman sports a Habano wrapper with Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos in the filler. This cigar looks very elegant with its light brown/golden color and golden rings. The pre-light aroma is sweet and woody. Throughout the smoke I picked up many different flavors, from spicy cinnamon to salted nuts and bitter chocolate. This cigar is absolutely delicious with medium to full body and a great burn. This cigar was originally called the Timeless Dominican and had been in Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 lineup before. Two years ago, Nat Sherman re-branded their whole portfolio and this cigar was re-branded as the Nat Sherman Timeless Prestige. However, I find it to still be the same quality and craftsmanship as before. The cigar is blended by Michael Herklots and handmade at the Quesada family factory in Santiago (MATASA). The Timeless Prestige Hermoso is an earthy treat to your senses with creamy texture and terrific flavor nuances as you smoke. I really enjoyed the harmony on this blend and if I take into account the great price...it's a win win! Picked on 01/17/2020
Edwin A.
TASTE:Wood , Pepper, Coffee and Earthy
HOBBIES:Working Out, Traveling and Smoking Good Cigars
STRENGTH:Medium-full , Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Perdomo Reserve Champagne Connecticut
Liga Privada T52
Tatuaje Nicaragua
Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970
Sin Compromiso

HVC First Selection Broadleaf 2018 Toro 6 * 52
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HVC is a brand that was created to pay homage to Cuba. The HVC First Selection Broadleaf is made at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua, and everything that is made there is always amazing. The pre-light / cold draw is a mix of slight cedar and dark chocolate with an undertone of coffee. The cigar starts with some earth and dark chocolate and the retrohale has some notes of coffee and pepper, which makes this cigar amazing to pair with some Flor de Caña rum. Entering the second half I get to taste more of that well-balanced Nicaraguan puro flavor with the wood and spice complimenting each other, and the retro hale has more of a peppery dark chocolate with a long finish to it. The end of the cigar remains almost the same, maintaining the well-balanced full flavored profile of dark chocolate and wood. Throughout the smoking experience I was happy to appreciate the excellent construction that gave me a flawless burn, and never needing to relight even after a short 5 minute interruption. Overall the HVC First Selection Broadleaf Toro is a delicious stick that I highly recommend to any smoker looking for a rich cigar that isn't overly powerful. Try one today! Picked on 01/08/2020
Curtis Yap
TASTE:Spice, Sweetness, Oak, Roasted nut, Coffee
HOBBIES:Smoking excellent cigars, Cooking, Going to new restaurants and bars, Playing badminton, Muay Thai, Always enjoy a good whiskey, scotch or tequila
STRENGTH:All

FAVORITE BRANDS
Arturo Fuente Fuente Opus X
Illusione "Original Documents"
Illusione Maduro
Davidoff Nicaragua
El Gueguense
Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour

Warzone Toro 6 * 52
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When I heard General Cigars and Espinosa were teaming up to create a cigar, utilizing their own unique styles, to say I was excited would be an understatement. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one. The cigar is constructed nicely, and I appreciate the thought process that went into designing the band, and the Warzone has a beautiful one. The cigar has a Cameroon wrapper, with a Honduran binder and a filler from Colombia and Nicaragua. The Warzone is a medium to full-bodied cigar with notes of white pepper, cedar and cocoa. On the cold draw you will pick up on the cocoa and cedar. As the cigar is toasted, you can smell the cedar. The first third lends itself to the cedar. As it transitions into the second third, the cocoa and white pepper become more prevalent especially on the retro hale. On the final third, the white pepper stands out a bit more but not to overwhelm your senses. The Warzone pairs well with a dark rum. It’s a good cigar to end your day. Picked on 01/03/2020
Adam
AGE:40
TASTE:All
HOBBIES:Music, Reading, Art, Nature, Craft Beer, Slacking
STRENGTH:All

FAVORITE BRANDS
Arturo Fuente
Liga Privada No. 9
Tatuaje Black Label
Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970

FOLLOW
Leaf by Oscar Maduro Lancero 6 * 38
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The Leaf line by Oscar has had me intrigued since it first arrived on the scene some time ago. They are rustic, the twisted tobacco leaf that each one is packaged in is far more interesting of a vessel than cellophane, and even the band itself is made from tobacco stems. I give them a lot of credit for their creativity alone. When I discovered that they added a lancero to the line, I jumped on it. This stick starts off with a nice peppery kick. On top of the pepper, I picked up flavors of earth, plum, cocoa, and molasses, though it is definitely not the sweetest maduro I have had as of late. The pepper seemed to fade and return on and off as I smoked, but the cigar remained fairly strong throughout. That said, I would recommend smoking this with some food in the belly. The draw was impressive...fairly easy for a lancero. Construction was well executed, though as noted previously, it has a rustic, old world feel to it including bumps, lumps and veins. It is not quite as “polished” as many other cigars out there. Some may disagree but I find that adds to the charm. Burn required minimal adjustments, smoke production was right about medium, and the ash was light grey. Espresso or perhaps an imperial stout would both be excellent pairing choices. I was fortunate enough to enjoy mine while sipping on 40 year old port, and had to pinch myself a few times to make sure I hadn’t passed and moved northward. Cheers and happy smoking! Picked on 12/28/2019
Elvis Batista
TASTE:Anything but BITTER CONNECTICUT
HOBBIES:Cooking, Swimming, Cycling, Racing Sports & Cigars
STRENGTH:Depends on the day, but usually from Medium to Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Liga Privada T52
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Natural
Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged
Aging Room Quattro F55

FOLLOW
Mombacho Diplomatico Toro 6 * 52
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Mombacho Diplomatico Toro is a cigar I could not wait to review since I first smoked it back in IPCPR 2019, it is no secret how big of a rum fan I am, and I think my love for cigars is not questioned. My patience paid off, and I could not be more thrilled about what this cigar came out to be after it aged even more after the first one I tried months ago, it is a medium-bodied cigar with tons of floral and woody notes with almost some sour like taste, sets the tastebuds into a salivating action that allows a broader perception of flavors from your sip of sweet Diplomatico rum. An Ecuadorian Colorado Habano Wrapper, packing Mombacho's highly selected Nicaraguan binders and fillers were just the right recipe for such a fantastic pairing delight. Picked on 12/23/2019
Michael Diaz-Silveira
AGE:25
TASTE:Wood, Leather, Nut, Maple
HOBBIES:Guitar, Investing, Travel
STRENGTH:Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
Herrera Esteli Habano
Eiroa CBT Maduro
Liga Privada No. 9
Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Connecticut
CAO Amazon Basin


BONUS
Adrenaline Junkie!
Eiroa Dark Natural 5 * 50
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The Eiroa Dark Natural is one of the newer releases from Christian Eiroa. This cigar caught my attention 1st being an Eiroa, Eiroa makes some of the most exquisite cigars on the market today, and 2nd its presentation. The cigar has an elegant wrapper that was just screaming my name. I began by torching the foot of the cigar till it was completely charred black. At first puff I was taken to paradise. The cigar is creamy, it’s nutty, and has a small amount of spice. The cigars ash burned evenly and the draw was perfect. I would say to pair this cigar up with a woody whiskey, or a dark coffee. Another great addition to the Eiroa line be sure to pick one up and try it. Picked on 09/01/2019
michael Perez
TASTE:ALL
HOBBIES:Motocross, fishing , cooking, smoking a good cigar
STRENGTH:Mild to Full

FAVORITE BRANDS
CAO Flathead
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Natural
Padron 1964 Anniversary Natural
Rocky Patel Vintage 2006

La Galera Habano El Lector Toro 6 * 54
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The Galera Habano El Lector is a great cigar made by Jochy Blanco a 4th generation cigar maker. This Cigar has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and has a Corojo binder and Dominican Filler. This cigar has a beautiful golden wrapper with minimal veins. This is a great medium body cigar that is packed with so much flavor. Once I lit the cigar I got notes of wood with some sweetness in the back ground with a mild hint of cinnamon. The second third was very creamy with some sweetness and spice towards the end. The final third of this cigar gave me hints of wood and chocolate notes with a hint of black pepper. This is a great cigar to enjoy that is made by a cigar maker who has a passion for growing tobacco. I strongly recommend this cigar. Enjoy and keep smoking Picked on 04/11/2019
Leonardo Segura
TASTE:Cedar, Dark Chocolate, Coffee, Hydrating/Refreshing, Oaky, Earthy, Creamy
HOBBIES:Golf, Long walks on the beach, Smoking cigars, Traveling, Learning
STRENGTH:Mostly Full, Some Medium

FAVORITE BRANDS
Ambos Mundos Habano
Brick House
La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero
Casa Fernandez Aganorsa Leaf
San Lotano Habano
La Galera Habano

Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli Robusto 5 * 52
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If you’re looking for a cigar that you can enjoy without scrutiny, look no further than the Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli. This robusto is unapologetically consistent in flavor all throughout. While this lack of complexity might traditionally discourage a cigar connoisseur from picking this stick up, it is not a detrimental quality. This is a valuable characteristic for the smoker looking for a cigar that they can pay little mind to as they relax on a poolside. Furthermore, this stogie also has a peculiar feature in its smoke. The smoke one draws is heavy and lingers on one’s tongue until it is all expelled. This lets one enjoy the rich grassy and earthy flavors this cigar carries to its fullest extent. This is a stick to pick up on your way to an all-inclusive beach resort vacation, where you might want to smoke a cigar with simple good flavors rather than nuanced notes. The Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli Robusto: a cigar for someone with a drink in their hand, on a beach, without a care in the world. Picked on 04/04/2019
Emmanuel Bermudez
TASTE:Earth, cedar, woody, Spicy
HOBBIES:Photography, Music Production, Sampling Wine/Whiskey, Cooking, Art, Nature, Sunbathing, Reading, Meditation
STRENGTH:Mild To Medium

FAVORITE BRANDS
Ambos Mundos No. 1 Habano
Rocky Patel Olde World Corojo
Brick House
Perdomo Double Aged 12 Year Connecticut
My Father

Ambos Mundos No. 1 Toro Habano 6 * 50
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After building my palate with milder, Connecticut-wrapped cigars, I wanted to expand and develop it further with the next natural step - a Habano wrapper. The Ambos Mundos No. 1 Toro Habano is from Nicaragua, and has a smooth Ecuadorian Habano wrapper along with Nicaraguan binder and filler. After lighting and getting a couple of puffs in, I immediately noticed the aroma... burnt cedar and cinnamon. This complimented the earthy, spicy notes found from the get-go extremely well. Midway through the cigar, the taste took a turn towards the cedar side, while still maintaining the earth and spice throughout, adding some nice complexity. I also have to mention that the draw was perfect, the burn was even from beginning to end, and no relights were needed. I highly recommend this cigar to both new smokers trying to broaden their horizons, and experienced smokers who enjoy a flavorful Habano wrapper. Picked on 11/28/2018