Marianela's Picks

Marianela
MARIANELA
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STRENGTH:Medium-Full and Full
Edition One Cloud Hopper No. 485 5 * 48
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Edition one has become a stapler on my cigar rotation. It impressed me the first time I smoked it and still doing the trick 10 or 15 cigars later. Medium in body and complex in flavor profile, this stick delivers plenty of earth, fruit, floral and cedar notes. Opens up strong and flavorful. My palate encounter hints of dried fruits, pepper and right up front. The party of flavors continue on the second third. Adding to the mix a dash of pepper and the cedar becoming more a grassy note than combine with the fruity flavors make for a delightful smoking experience. On the final third Earthy notes accompanied by a sudden sweetness makes its way upfront with some underneath cedar to give a perfect finish to this cigar. Satisfactory from beginning to end. You would never imagine that such a simple looking cigar is capable to give so much joy to the smoking experience. I pair the Edition Cloud Hopper no. 485 with a cup of Hibiscus tea and it was a combination made in heaven. A whole new level of enjoyment. Picked on 12/04/2019
AVO Unexpected Tradition 6 * 50
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I think the Unexpected series is one of AVO’s best releases ever. l confess I love them all, they are good looking, well balanced… and even though it’s almost a whole new terrain for this brand, which started with the Avo Nicaragua and then Avo Ritmo, one has to admit it has reached a new level of expertise with the Unexpected Series. The Tradition is my favorite blend. It appeals to my sight, my sense of smell and my palate, it has everything I like and look for in a cigar: flavor, strength and complexity. With a mix of pepper and wood the cigar starts very promising. Some vanilla and fruity notes appear to make the smoke a lot more interesting by leveling and adding different nuances to the mix. I can taste sweet and some subtle saltiness that balances and add to this wonderful array of flavors. The cigar is delicious from the beginning to the very end. Satisfying in all of the crucial points: appearance, flavor, complexity and construction, maybe a little high when it comes to the price but, if you overlook that detail it’s very close to perfection. If you are up to experiment with new flavors or you are not into alcohol I suggest to try this cigar with Ginger Tea. It will take you to heaven! Picked on 11/04/2019
Balmoral Anejo XO Nicaragua Gran Toro 6 * 52
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Balmoral Anejo XO Nicaragua features a reddish brown Habano wrapper, a Brazilian binder leaf, and a blend of Dominican Or, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian tobacco. The result: a very unique masterpiece, you can taste sweet, Mocha and some fruity notes that makes this cigar a interesting experience. Medium to full bodied flavors that reach their peak right on the second half. Delivering a blast to one palate, Coffee, Chocalte and a touch of spices, velvety and smooth not to be overpowering but with enough strength and taste to be satisfying. Perfect burning line and firm gray ash. A great smoke without any doubt and enjoyable no matter the time of the day. Cheers! Picked on 10/19/2019
Cohiba Connecticut Toro 61/2 * 52
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A Mexican San Andres binder, Brazilian Mata Fina, Dominican, Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan Jalapa and Dominican Olor as fillers accompany this gorgeous Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and blends to create a mild to medium stick. With a white and gold band this cigar looks as luxurious as its name. The wrapper has a beautiful flawless gold shade, with some visible veins, but they are very small and very subtle. The foot of the cigar exudes earth and cedar notes. Right away I can taste some sweetness and cream with wood and hay notes being the predominant flavors. Then I taste a tad of pepper on my palate, I found the first third is delicious, Very light with notes of cedar and a great aroma. In the second third the pepper increases a bit on the palate, just for a moment before I can start feeling the tobacco sweetness again with mild pepper on the background. Reaching the final third, I got plenty of cedar, playing around earth and toasty notes, dulling away the pepper and playing along with some tobacco sweet notes. Sweet, wood and Cedar are the predominant flavors during the entire smoke. Creamy, Smooth and Delicious are the right adjectives to describe the Cohiba Connecticut. Construction is flawless with a nice draw, solid gray ash and even burning line. Complex and satisfying this cigar can be enjoyed not only for a Connecticut leaf lover but for every cigar smoker out there. Picked on 09/02/2019
Flor de Selva Toro 6 * 52
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Maya Selva has been in the market for more than 20 years now. The company is named for its owner, Maya Selva. Maya Selva Cigars has had a presence in Europe for quite some time and has starting to create a fan base in the USA market. I’m not a fan of Connecticut wrappers but this cigar is one of the few ones I love and enjoy the most. The beginning of this cigar is great. Flor de Selva Connecticut Toro filled my palate with a blend of cream, wood, a hint of pepper, and a wonderfull sweetness that makes the cigar flavor rich from the first puff. One can feel the cream and the sweetness on as the cigar burns through the first 2-3 inches, the other notes move into the background. The pepper lingered quite a bit on the tongue but is never too much, just the right amount. For the second third, I found the cedar mixes with the cream notes in the front line. With some almost unnoticed natural tobacco and mild pepper notes in the background, the sweetness is still there but like the perfect companion of the overall flavor. The last third, I would say is my favorite part. The pepper increases a tad and the natural tobacco notes are predominant now along with cedar notes. The burn line continued straight from start to finish. The ash was tight and solid with a beautiful gray color. This cigar fall into the mild to medium range in terms of strength. I found the body of the Flor de Selva Connecticut Toro started out mild-medium-bodied and becomes a solid medium by the second half, keeping that strength until the end. This cigars is flavorful, along with it’s flawless construction guarantees a joyful experience. Picked on 03/18/2019
Balmoral Serie Signaturas Dueto Robusto 5 * 50
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Two names with a long history and tremendously successful in the cigar world combined their experience and taste to create this beautiful stick. The band is bright red, just gorgeous. The wrapper is oily and kind of dark-reddish. Since the wrapper and binders are Nicaraguan tobacco with mata fina and Nicaraguan fillers I was not entirely surprised the way the cigar started. A blast of pepper takes up my palate followed by a very pleasant nuttiness and coffee notes. For a second I almost thought the pepper was too much but... I‘m not a quitter. The pepper started receding after a couple of puffs. The cigar is more tame and became smoother and more balanced. Some hay and earthy notes dance around the pepper with a sweetness underneath and fruity aroma. I’m loving it, my bud tastes are happy. The final third comes with an increase of the coffee/cacao notes and a tone up of the pepper, not overwhelming but almost like in the beginning. Only this time the underlying sweetness makes the combination more interesting. Draw and burn were good, the cigar was flavorful and satisfying.Pair it with rum and it was great! Picked on 02/03/2019
Micallef Experiencia La Crema 7 * 52
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Micallef Cigars is a new brand backed up for three generations and 134 years of experience in cigar making. Experiencia means Experience and this is what one gets when smoking this cigar. Featuring a beautiful elaborate design band with blue, gold and red colors contrasting beautifully with the oily light colored Mexican leaf. It feels firm without being tight to the touch with a nice nutty and earthy aroma. The Cigar is made in Nicaragua by the Gomez Sanchez family. The cigar starts off with coffee notes accompanied by a dash of pepper. Some sweetness and a very creamy finish. After a few minutes it becomes woody with an increase on the peppery notes, hints of leather in the background. Towards the second half nutty notes are all over my palate. The cigar is creamier and very earthy at this point. Cocoa and leather appears and one can taste some spicy for a couple of minutes but it goes back to be velvety and subtle in the medium strength range, still there till the final third. The leather becomes predominant at the end. The cigar truly is a enjoyable smoking experience: Flavor, complexity, long finish, good draw, a sharp burning line…what else can I say? It has everything!!! Picked on 11/29/2018
Nestor Miranda Collection 75th Anniversary Salomon 71/4 * 57
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A puro Nicaraguan created to commemorate Nestor Miranda 75th birthday. Miami Cigars hit the ball out of the park with this gorgeous cigar. It has the look, it has the flavor and it has the name. Everything about this cigar is said to be top of the line : The beautiful white and gold box wrapping the most gorgeous cigars I’ve ever seen. Featuring two cigar bands ,one is white with gold letters and the other one completely gold which highlight the dark corojo wrapper making a very nice contrast and giving the stick a luxurious look. This Salomon shape makes this cigar even more interesting. The dimensions 7 ¼ by 57 makes one look at it with respect, it’s not a small cigar and of course just looking at it one can imagine how flavorful and delicious its going to be. The first third brings notes of nuts, coffee surrounded by a touch of dates and some pepper. The pepper intensifies a bit after the first ½ inch without being overpowering, just completing the whole. Second third the cigar delivers a touch of floral sweetness combined with notes of cedar, wood and some salt lingering around; with the taste of red pepper still in the background. The last third of the cigar is all about nuts, cedar, and a dash of salt with some pepper. The construction is flawless, no touch up required and a perfect burning line ( I would like you guys to see the pictures I took), there’s nothing else to say. Its definitely a must try…for a special occasion or if you have a healthy budget as an everyday smoke...while you can get it, this cigar is worth every penny!! Picked on 10/28/2018
Casa Fernandez Miami Aniversario Serie 2015 L.F. Celine 6 * 56
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The packaging of the Celine is gorgeous. The white and silver band is classy and makes a beautiful contrast with the light caramel wrapper of the cigar. It has a white paper sleeve as well to complete the look of this Nicaraguan Puro. The first note I detect right after the first puff is cedar and some mild pepper that continue for about 1 1/2 inches. After that it becomes very earthy and the pepper increases a bit. Some fruity notes and a caramel kind of flavor tone start to develop in the second third and it becomes extremely flavorful and delicious. By the last third the mix of cedar with some leather and caramel notes close this enjoyable smoking experience. Construction was flawless, draw was just right and the burning line and ash on point. I would say this cigar has the look, the flavor and the complexity that makes a cigar an exceptional smoke. Medium plus to full body in strength this cigar is pure pleasure to the palate. This Cigar is a reflection of the experience and care that Casa Fernandez puts in its cigars. Picked on 10/07/2018
Aging Room Pura Cepa Mezzo 6 * 54
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This cigar is just another example of the quality and care that Aging Room puts into its products. A nicaraguan puro made at the plasencia factory in Nicaragua, the cigar features tobacco from different regions of Nicaragua and it reflects it in the flavor and intensity. Medium to full in strength this cigar does not fall short in flavor and the construction is flawless. Cedar and leather are the predominant notes with hints of coffee and wood, bold with the right amount of pepper it is the archetype of a nicaraguan puro. Flavorful from beginning to end this stick it’s a party for the palate. excellent draw and a beautiful ash to complete a wonderful smoking experience. Cheers!!! Picked on 08/26/2018
Montecristo Ciudad de Musica Robusto 5 * 50
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I have to confess the real reason iI smoked this cigar was because of the name. I consider myself a happy kind of person and Ciudad de Musica makes me think of happy songs and pleasant moments with family and friends. The band is very unusual with three logos on it: Montecristo, Crowned Heads and Ciudad de Musica using black and copper colors in a fairly large band that cover most of the cigar. Simple but strategically done, even though it prevents the gorgeous Ecuadorian habano wrapper from being fully appreciated. To be honest not my favorite cigar band but the name and the fact that it is a collaboration with Crowned Heads intrigued me. The cigar starts as very earthy and cedary with some pepper that comes and goes in my palate but keeps steady in my nose and almost make me sneeze. It’s not overpowering but it is playful and interesting. By the time I reach the second third the pepper has receded and become smoother and the cedar notes take over with hints of wood in the background. The last third is very creamy and woodsy with a very pleasant sweetness and a mild pepper to wrap the smoke. Good draw, well constructed and a nice burn line. No retouches needed. Medium to medium plus in strength this cigar is a must try when you are feeling adventurous and want to give your palate a different experience than your average everyday smoke. Having tried the Toro and the Robusto size I think the Robusto is by far more complex and satisfying and will not disappoint. Picked on 07/22/2018
Avo Maduro 30 Years No. 2 6 * 50
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Avo is one of the most overlooked brands on the market. The branding is somehow discreet..well, except for the Avo Syncro. But even the Syncro is not as flashy and vibrant as the majority of the cigar bands right now. I think that has a lot do with with the type of smokers who look for this specific brand: a more experienced and critical consumer. This Avo Maduro 30 years is aiming for that smoker, the one that doesn’t care about bright colors and flashy packaging but about flavor and aroma instead. The cigar was such a pleasant surprise! Don’t get me wrong Avo always delivers but the smoothness, the flavor and the aroma was just perfect. Enough to activate ones palate without being overwhelming or falling short. Started as a solid medium. Very earthy with some floral notes and hints of pepper underneath in the first third. It develops an impressive sweetness in the second third and one can taste cedar and cocoa that intensified in the last third. Complex but humbled, not flavor explosions but mild transitions. Nice and even burning line, a gray almost white ash. Consistent in flavor, and no relights needed. The cigar didn’t blow my senses but at the end I couldn’t stop thinking how satisfying and rewarding it was and how much I enjoyed. Maybe I’m becoming more experienced and wiser or its only a phase...maybe I’m just getting old, whatever it is: I loved it! Picked on 06/23/2018
Plasencia Reserva Original Toro 6 * 50
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The Plasencia family is well known for its enormous tobacco growing operation and for been manufacturing cigars for other companies, now they are using that experience to produce its own brand. The Plasencia Reserva Organica, a cigar made with organically grown Nicaraguan tobacco is one of the lines they are offering. the Plasencia Reserva Original is the world’s first and only organic cigar made completley with tobacco certified by the Organic Crop Improvement Association. The Plasencia Reserva Original is very appealing to the eye. The wrapper of this Nicaraguan puro looks like a Café con Leche claro. With a delicate aroma of cedar and honey on it. Once lit it smells rich and earthy and starts as a plain medium smoke. A inch into it, I can feel it picks up on strength, adding pepper and coffee notes but with a hint of sweetness leveling out the blend. My palate is really enjoying this stick... This natural tobacco sweetness holds and increases in the last third. The pepper notes fading but do not disappear and the cedar, earth and coffee notes predominating in this stage, the cigar becomes very creamy with a pinch of mild pepper on the finish. Complex, well constructed no draw or big burning issues. I would say medium in flavor and body. Picked on 04/21/2018
Aladino Robusto 5 * 50
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It’s almost unreal how perfect the wrapper looks. As smooth and even as a fancy chocolate bar you might want to eat it instead of smoking it. The Eiroa family proudly pointed it out as a authentic and 100% corojo cigar. I was waiting for a blast of pepper yet I’m pleasantly surprised how creamy and smooth it is upon first light. Yes, it has some pepper but it’s so subtle that it does not interfere with the earthy and sweet notes of natural tobacco; it’s more of a complement that gives this cigar a different dimension of enjoyment. The second third brings coffee and cedar notes and an increase of pepper...by the time it reaches the last third it becomes buttery. The sweetness has taken over and the pepper still there without being overpowering. Developing some flower notes to close the smoking experience. Medium to full in strength with a straight burning line. Gray flaky ash and a perfect draw this stick is certainly a hit. It’s intended more for an experienced than a novice smoker in my opinion. There’s nothing but good things to say of this cigar: Well balanced, great flavor and great construction!! Picked on 03/26/2018
The Wise Man Maduro Robusto 51/2 * 50
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What a gorgeous wrapper! This was my first thought of this cigar. So oily and inviting, rustic without being rough, the dark San Andres wrapper is like a promise of an excellent smoke. Dark cocoa, coffee and some leather are the opening notes; I can feel the pepper in the very first puff. About two inches into the cigar, it starts mellowing out, the pepper is almost gone the cigar becomes creamier and the earthy notes are quite predominant. The pepper intensifies again in the final third with the coffee and earthy notes fighting to be the leading taste. This box press cigar is a slow burner, with a consistent even burning line and ash. It’s not as complex as I imagined after smoking its predecessor El Gueguense but it’s not flat either. In fact has interesting and subtle notes of leather and chocolate that are hard to taste because the pepper and the coffee. Overall is an enjoyable smoke. I will be trying the toro size very soon?? Picked on 03/06/2018
Joya de Nicaragua Antano 1970 Robusto Grande 51/2 * 52
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It is hard to keep track of one favorite smokes with such a vast selection of brands in the market. When I don’t want to experiment and just want an awesome cigar I always come back to this one: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970. Bold, rich, complex and well constructed, what else can I ask for? Earthy notes with hints of pepper and some wood and floral tones and this cigar is as flavorful as a cigar can be. Medium bodied in strength but full in flavor, this cigar is like having a party on my palate and my nose. The aroma is of chocolate and raisins with a touch of leather that translates into more flavor and makes this cigar so delicious and satisfying...at least for me. Excellent draw and a even burning line with a strong beautiful gray ash. This cigar is a real gem. Picked on 01/29/2018
Camacho Diploma Limited Robusto 5 * 54
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I just can’t pass the opportunity to try a cigar with such gorgeous packaging. The blue diamond shaped box is stunning and the craftsmanship is something to talk about it but I know...you just want to know about the cigar experience. Let start: first thing I noticed is the pleasant aroma, very earthy and woody. Upon lighting it’s incredibly smooth and what is more exciting is there are no traces of pepper or any harsh flavors. Very nutty at the beginning and developed some cedar notes in the second third with some sweetness in the background. An increase on strength as well without loosing the velvety touch. In the last third the right amount of pepper combined with more noticeable cedar and earthy notes, gives the cigar a perfect ending. It was absolutely delicious. Great draw, great burning line, flavorful yet subtle, worthy of every penny you pay for it. I didn’t have the chance to try the original but thumbs up this is an excellent smoke. Picked on 01/01/2018
Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III 61/8 * 52
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The wait is overs and once again Grupo de Maestros does not disappoint. The cigar looks classy, the wrapper is even, smooth and once you get rid of the cedar covering the torpedo stick it looks exactly like its cuban counterpart: the Montecristo no 2, but of course I like this one better (personal preference). Upon lightning the cigar is all about cedar and leather notes with some spice and pepper here and there. Wood and hay notes lead the way in the second third with a dash of floral flavors and an increase of the pepper...very interesting. The cigar starts as a solid medium but increases in strength at the end to a full bodied even though it’s smooth and creamy. Nice burn and ash. There are not many different flavors in this cigar but the variation in the intensity of them and the way they are perceived make it complex and satisfying to the palate. Overall it was an excellent smoke, the cigar delivers on every aspect: flavor, strength, aroma, complexity, balance and finish. It is a must try. Picked on 11/25/2017
Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit TAA Toro 6 * 50
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The last 5 years the cigar industry has seen an improvement in quality. You can see how the cigar makers are listening and paying attention to their customers; trying to deliver variety in order to reach and satisfy different palates while keeping them affordable. This is exactly what Alec Bradley tried and successfully delivered with the Black Market Illicit; a flavorful smoke. Not sure what’s the trick in this one, maybe the dual honduran-nicaraguan binder and nicaraguan fillers from different regions but for sure this is a winning blend. Achieving the exact balance between strength and flavor and featuring rich cocoa notes a tad of pepper and a subtle nutty taste to begin with it. This cigar is delicious. Hints of cedar and woodsy flavors come and go towards the second third and intensify when approaching the last third. Even burn with a gray flaky ash that doesn’t hold for more than half an inch but who cares when a cigar is this tasty. Picked on 11/06/2017
Liga Undercrown Sungrown Belicoso 6 * 52
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This cigar features a beautiful oily Ecuadorian Sumatra sun grown wrapper with a nice reddish hue, inviting and attractive to the eye. The cigar smells of earth and cocoa butter. Upon lightning I detect a floral scent and some zesty notes with hints of pepper here and there. The second third, a dash of citrus and spice with an increase of the cocoa butter/chocolate flavors make a great combination and create a more interesting smoking experience. Last third the sweetness is all gone and one can taste natural tobacco and some black pepper as predominant notes. Great burning with a gorgeous grey ash, excellent draw. Medium to medium plus on strength this cigar is a good addition to the Undercrown family and without hesitation I can say it’s my favorite of them all. Picked on 10/15/2017
La Palina 2017 Goldie Toro 6 * 52
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There's something about the Goldie, it looks classic, the light brown shade wrapper is smooth and even, it is flawless! And the gold band just adds more elegance to this stick. Upon lightning it up my first impression are waves of cedar notes taking up my palate along with some pepper, not enough to be overwhelming but to scare me a little bit; I'm not a fan of pepper. One inch down and it becomes very smooth and velvety, there's a touch of nuts, roasted nuts to be more precise with a sweetness like cinnamon and earthy flavors alternating and combining...of course I'm loving it. In the last third all these flavors toned down and is all about wood and pepper not as much as the beginning but it is there and I don't mind at all, since I can still taste some of the previous notes. Medium to medium plus in strength, perfect draw and a perfect burning line with a grayish beautiful ash. The cigar lives up to its reputation of being something special. I don't know if the history and mystery surrounding this cigar (which I love) influenced my appreciation of it but I truly enjoyed it and can't wait to smoke it again tonight. I'll keep you guys posted! Picked on 08/13/2017
Kristoff Maduro Robusto 51/2 * 54
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Sit down, take your time and enjoy this cigar . With a rustic look this cigar is beautiful enough to catch the eye, to stand out by itself. The cigar features a pigtail cap and a closed kind of shaggy foot. It's safe to say this is my favorite Kristoff ever. First impression is of strong chocolate and coffee flavor accompanied by some leather notes and a wonderful sweetness. Very creamy and developing some earthy and caramel notes in the second third. Consistently flavorful and complex, the cigar developed some spice in the last third. The Brazilian wrapper makes a wonderful pair with the Dominican binder and the Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. Construction wise the cigar has a good draw a solid gray ash and an even burning line. I smoked this one way down to the nub and enjoyed every bit of it. Picked on 07/23/2017
La Gran Llave Maduro Robusto 5 * 54
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This is a great looking stick for sure and it screams quality. The gorgeous colorful double band contrasting with the dark wrapper makes the cigar visually delicious. The smells of cedar, coffee and earth makes it absolutely irresistible for me. You can tell this cigar is the result of experience and knowledge working together. Michael Argenti and AJ Fernandez are the geniuses behind La Gran Llave and it's all about great quality and amazing flavors. Upon lighting I could feel how all these flavors would come and go playing with my palate. Coffee and cedar alternating with some earthy notes and a touch of sweetness make this cigar a very flavorful experience. The right amount of spice and a dash of pepper complete the perfect symphony of flavors making for an impressive performance. Construction is flawless and the cigar smokes perfect from beginning to end. Cold draw, even burning line and a firm, almost white ash. Full flavor, medium to medium plus in strength, this box press shaped cigar is definitely one you have to try. Picked on 07/09/2017
H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez Churchill 7 * 54
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There's no doubt AJ Fernandez is the hottest cigar blender right now. Every blend is different than the previous and each line has his own personalized flavor profile. This cigar is a complete change from the traditional H Upman cigar, the bright colors in the packaging have been designed to attract a younger audience and a more modern smoker. Flavor wise this cigar is a gem, coffee and cedar are the predominant notes with a subtle nuttiness in the retrohale and a hint of spice. Medium to full in strength and flawless construction, solid ash, easy draw. The price point of an everyday smoke with the quality of a high end cigar...what else can one ask? Picked on 06/18/2017
Nat Sherman Timeless Supreme 749 Churchill 7 * 49
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Nat sherman cigars is synonym of classic luxury and this box press Vitola is not the exception. cigar is all about subtleness, without being excessively ornate you can tell it's a great smoke at first sight. Starting with some cocoa and very strong chocolate notes with a hint of spice and delivering some wood and fruity flavors later on. The flavors evolved from subtle to medium and finish with a strong natural tobacco combined with wood and cedar. A beautiful even burning line and gray ash. I liked to imagine this is the type of cigar my grandfather used to smoke, no false promises but great without being pretentious. Picked on 04/30/2017
Montecristo Crafted by AJ Fernandez Toro 6 * 50
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There's no doubt AJ Fernandez has a magic touch when it comes to creating fine cigars. Once and again you see the results of his craftsmanship in this new collaboration with Montecristo. This beautiful box press is bold and flavorful. An Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Mexican San Andres binder and fillers from Nicaragua, USA, and Honduras perfectly blend and complement each other resulting in a flawless smoke. A very simple but elegant look, this vitola truly is a work of art. This full bodied cigar started out with coffee and dark chocolate notes, adding some leather and spice later on. Strong enough to satisfy a full bodied smoker but smooth and velvety enough to be appreciated for smokers who prefer a lighter smoke. Impeccable construction, firm ash and no need to relight. This cigar is a must to try!! Picked on 04/09/2017
Henry Clay Maduro Breva Fina 61/2 * 48
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One of the oldest brands in the cigar market, Henry Clay is all about quality and consistency. A Connecticut broadleaf wrapper with a Dominican binder and Brazilian and Dominican fillers; this cigar is the epitome of a good full flavor but smooth cigar. It opens up with very earthy notes with some leather in the background in a medium bodied strength range in the first third. Some spice appears in the second third with the leather notes becoming more noticeable but not losing any of its creaminess. Very rich and creamy in the final third with a dash of spice and pepper that combined with the earthy flavors makes this a very satisfying smoke. Henry Clay is not about novelty but quality and a well made cigar. Perfect draw, nice gray ash and a flavor consistency hard to find in other brands...maybe that's the reason this brand still around after so many years. Picked on 03/26/2017
La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Robusto 5 * 52
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I'm obsessed with this stick and I just can't stop smoking it. This cigar is packed with flavor that is complex from the very beginning to the end. This is a nice looking cigar that immediately catches the eye, with a rough and oily medium brown wrapper that smells of dark cocoa and leather. Medium to full in strength with a combination of leather, cocoa, nuts, and cedar interacting and playing alongside ones palate and nose. Going from medium strength and picking up to end as a full bodied smoke. Perfect draw with a grey almost white ash. I must say the partnership between La Palina and AJ Fernandez smells like success. Picked on 02/26/2017
Montecristo Espada Guard 6 * 50
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When Plasencia and Grupo de Maestros join forces one can be sure the result is going to be outstanding. This all nicaraguan cigar has everything you could ask for: look, impeccable construction, flavor and complexity. You will find so many flavors alternating and playing all together. Cocoa, pepper, spice and predominantly leather in the first third; coffee and almond notes in the background of the second half that take over in the last third. All these flavors work beautifully together creating an unforgettable cigar. Nice draw and an even burning line makes this full bodied cigar a winner and a must have for all cigar lovers. Picked on 02/12/2017
Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo Azarosa 41/2 * 52
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It's always quite a pleasure to smoke an Antaño Dark Corojo. I tried it for the first time a few years ago and my opinion about this stick hasn't changed even a bit: it is a wonderful smoke! The dark wrapper with a black and gold band is very good looking and enticing. Once it's lit you're hit with cedar and chocolate flavors, then leather notes appearing in the second third mixed with a bit of spice. Espresso and chocolate are the predominant flavors but you can taste some caramel and fruity tones in the background as well. It's bold and powerful but not aggressive to the palate,very satisfying. This cigar gives you everything a good cigar is supposed to: power, flavor, aroma, a nice strong ash, an even burning line and an excellent price. What more could you ask for? Picked on 01/22/2017
Flor de Selva No. 20 Lancero 7 * 38
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To celebrate 20 years in the cigar business is a huge achievement, but when you are a woman in a man's world, this is an even bigger accomplishment and it's even more satisfying. Maya know the business for sure but most importantly...she knows about cigars. Flor de Selva no. 20 is a celebratory cigar and a must to try for all lancero fans. The light colored habano wrapper looks smooth, soft, shiny, and smells of cedar and sweet raisins. The first third is earthy with some coffee notes and a nutty essence playing around the palate and this subtle sweetness that comes and goes... In the second third cedary and leathery notes are the predominant flavors with some spice that increases in the last third, making the leathery notes to come upfront and the wood to recede a little.  I'm very impressed!! This cigar had a perfect burning line, a great strong ash for a Lancero size, excellent draw and no relights needed. Medium in strength but medium to full bodied in flavor.  A Honduran puro that hits you right in the palate. You won't be disappointed!  Picked on 01/08/2017
San Cristobal Quintessence Epicure 6 * 52
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Hands down this cigar has one of the most beautiful bands in the cigar world. When combined with a gorgeous Ecuadorian habano leaf the contrast for sure is gonna catch the eye. It's becoming a tradition for Ashton to give us the gift of a special release right before Christmas; a new special blend that is always on point and this year is no different. Medium to full in strength this cigar is extremely flavorful, with the right amount of spice to make it interesting without being overpowering.  Starting with rich coffee notes alternating all the way with milk chocolate and an almost indescriptible floral sweetness. An excellent smoke from the beginning to the very end, nice ash more on the flaky side but with an even burn line.  I highly recommend this new addition of the San Cristobal line, is the perfect cigar to bond with friends. Picked on 01/01/2017
Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generacion V Salomon 7 * 58
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This cigar is a result of the blend of Nicaraguan tobacco from 4 different regions and the work of five people looking for perfection. Certainly it is more than just another gorgeous cigar. You can tell just from first glance this cigar is something else...the hexagonal shape, the beautiful label, and box; talk about luxury at its best. The tobacco used for the Alma Fuerte blend has been aged for almost 9 years and it reflects on the flavor: leathery with strong dark cocoa notes that intensify around the second third. A dash of pepper to remind us it's a Nicaraguan puro without being overwhelming. In the last third hints of coffee and walnuts give this wonderful smoke the perfect closing to leave the smoker satisfied and wanting to smoke it again.  A strong almost white ash and even burning line combined with great flavor complexity and solid construction; talk about excellent quality and attention to detail. Even though this stick has a high price point it is worthy to have a place in your humidor for those occasions when you need a truly special smoke. Picked on 11/25/2016
La Palina Mr. Sam Toro 6 * 50
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This cigar has truly become one of my favorites. Visually it is classy and inviting, the dark wrapper, and the gold band contrasts beautifully and makes me dream of romance, poetry, and true love. The Ecuador wrapper blends perfectly with the Nicaraguan binder and filler, the result is a very tasty smoke with a nice aroma. Lighting the cigar was a nice experience; wood is the first note to hit my palate with a hint of pepper. Followed by a smooth chocolate flavor and an unexpected sweetness like molasses in the background. Some leather and cedar to complete the mix. This cigar is wonderful, it has everything: flawless construction, it's flavorful, has a perfect burning line, and a strong grey solid ash. A great cigar from the beginning to the very end.  Picked on 11/11/2016
La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli Maduro No. Fifty Four 6 * 54
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I was not sure what to smoke for my review this week, there's so many new brands, lines and sizes that it is really hard to choose just one. So I settled for the Serie R Esteli Maduro, it's been a long time since I smoked one of these series R, why not to try the Maduro?. The cigar band is gorgeous, classic, very attractive to the eye and the bright red contrasts beautifully with the dark brown connecticut broadleaf wrapper. It looks oily but kind of rough; visually it has caracter, and smells of cocoa and leather. After lighting it there's a burst of dark chocolate and leather playing together in my palate, surrounded by some subtle coffee notes, smooth and velvety. Then in the second third I detect some earthy and nutty notes with some sweetness and an increase on strengh. The last third is a combination of earth, leather and coffee flavors. A lot of smoke, a sharp burning line, great solid ash, and great construction. Flavor and strength wise it's a solid Medium. Perfect for an everyday tasty and smooth smoke. Picked on 10/09/2016
Herrera Esteli TAA Toro Exclusive 6 * 52
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The dark, oily, and shiny wrapper caught my eye immediately; so sleek. Knowing the binder is the brazilian mata fina I love...that's it, I had to smoke it. If you think the look is stunning just wait and smoke it, the cigar is great in every way . Flavor wise it is complex and well balanced; woody and earthy with coffe notes that comes and goes, some mild pepper that increases in the final third surrounded by a sweetness found in figs and some zest here and there. Nice aroma, medium plus to full in strength, medium flavor. Good draw and a beautiful even burning line, no relights needed it. Hands down an excellent cigar, Herrera Esteli did it again! Picked on 10/02/2016
Montecristo Platinum No. 2 61/8 * 52
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You can tell this cigar has personality. The dark caramel wrapper makes an attractive contrast with the elegant silver double band, it screams power and strength. A mexican wrapper, nicaraguan binder and a blend of dominican, nicaraguan and peruvian fillers, makes for an interesting combination. Once it is lit, wood and hints of leather are the first notes coming around. The wood intensifies in the second third becoming the predominant flavor but one can taste some cocoa and mild peper in the background, The last third is very earthy with cocoa and leather notes as a companion. The cigar burns beautifully with a strong gray almost white ash. Nice construction. For the most part medium plus in strength, consistent, and flavorful. No need to relight something which l really enjoy. A wonderful cigar to be smoked anytime just for the pleasure... Picked on 09/25/2016
Crowned Heads Le Careme Cosacos 53/8 * 42
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Dark, bold and flavorful; three of my favorites traits combined in one beautiful box pressed stick. The wrapper is shiny and the cigar feels firm to the touch and smells of cocoa. The first third starts with cedar and leather flavors and mild pepper in the background. Heavy cocoa notes develop in the second third accompanied by hints of cream and a unusual fruity sweetness dancing around and then exploding into a nice mixture of chocolate, cherry, cedar, and leather notes in the last third. Medium to medium plus in strength but creamy with a nice velvety feeling in the retrohale. I'm impressed with how beautifully and consistently it burns, the ash is almost white and fairly strong...no touch-ups needed. Worthy of every puff and every minute spent enjoying this cigar. Picked on 09/11/2016
Casa Magna Jalapa Claro Toro Box Pressed 6 * 50
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Being an exclusive IPCPR edition and in very limited production my expectations were very high. I was excited to try it, the caramel colored wrapper and the gold band give it a classic inviting look. Of course the one I was dying to try was the box press. The cigar looks perfectly pressed, slim, smooth, and smells of fresh rain and cedar. Once lit the first third is earthy and cedary with hints of white pepper that recede and almost disappeared on the second third. The cigar becomes sweet with some citrus and lots of earthy and leathery notes on the background. Medium bodied all the way, well balanced, nice even burning line, gray flaky ash, no relights. Overall this stick is on point. Picked on 08/28/2016
Macanudo Inspirado Orange Robusto 5 * 50
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This is a radical change for Macanudo: the packaging is bold and bright. The caramel color wrapper looks silky and the orange band gives it a very happy appeareance, a real eye catcher. This cigar is a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican tobacco with outstanding results. Beautifully made, tasty, complex, and a perfect burning line. Every size I've smoked has been nothing short of perfect. A medium smoke all the way, earthy, sometimes spicy with cedar notes. The second half is specially creamy and smooth without loosing its strength and some floral tones developing on the background. The last third becomes more woodsy than cedary. Lots of smoke and a great ash.  Money wise this stick is a steal, worthy to be included in your regular rotation. Picked on 08/14/2016
Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II 6 * 50
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Grupo de maestros is a group of men with different knowledge, upbringing, training, and history but one thing in commom: a passion for cigars. A combined 164 years of experience put together to create and select the best blends for us to enjoy. That's how Grupo de Maestros Private batch was born... With an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan fillers this stick is a work of art. The dark brown wrapper is not too sleek yet not too rough (just enough to catch the eye), the double band and the great pre-light aroma make this a mouthwatering cigar. Wood, leather and some mild pepper are the first notes to hit my palate but all of the sudden I taste some earth and the pepper intensifies. The second third is a battle between citric and coffee flavors, combined with a underneath nuttiness that makes it very interesting. In the last third the pepper is predominant surrounded by earth and leather notes. Straight beautiful burning line, strong gorgeous white ash, I have no complaints about this cigar...a masterwork for sure. Picked on 07/17/2016
New World Gobernador Toro 61/2 * 55
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This cigar stands out on the shelves, it seems like someone took the time and effort to create a very nice stick. Combining a striking off white, red and gold label with a dark oily wrapper it catches the eye. Lighting up this cigar is a pleasure, with creamy chocolate notes right up front to my palate followed by some earthiness and mild pepper that gives it balance. The second third is earthy, peppery, and sweet all together continuing the same until the end. Some herbal notes here and there. Perfect construction, even burn line, flavorful and excellent draw. Medium to full on strengh, the cigar is all about flavor and in my opinion this its major accomplishment No relights need it! Picked on 07/03/2016
Casa Magna Colorado Gran Unico 51/2 * 60
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This cigar looks as great as its name. With a very thick dark brown wrapper with hues of red contrasting with a gorgeous gold and black band this cigar looks like royalty. Powerful, flavorful, and unpredictable, it goes from leathery and cedary flavors to sweet chocolate notes transitioning to a very enjoyable zestyness on the last third. Nice even burn line, gray scaly ash, and a cold smoke from the beginning to the very end. Picked on 06/19/2016
Nat Sherman Timeless Panamericana Cervantes 6 * 43
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I think I'm in heaven!!! There's so many new cigars to review and I promise I'll do my best to smoke as much as I can. At first glance this cigar looks pretty modest, no bright colors on the band, not a fancy box and not even a hint it's a TAA special blend... But it caught my eye and I don't regret it. With a sumatra wrapper and nicaraguan and Costa rican fillers this cigar is delicious. Smooth, sweet but sharp, with fruity and coffee notes on the background. Consistent in flavor and strength all the way trough, developing some mild pepper and woodsy notes on the last third. Nice even burning line with a dark gray flaky ash. A stick you can smoke first thing in the morning with a black cafecito, to start the day in the right note or after dinner accompanied by a nice single malt or in my case with a glass of wine. Picked on 06/05/2016
La Palina TAA Bills Blend Toro 6 * 50
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The first time I tried this stick the only thing I was sure of is that it was a La Palina cigar, didn't know the name or anything else. There was something about the flavor, the way it smoked that got me hooked. So, I needed to find out the name. After smoking the cigar again I can say it is a great smoke. Flavorful, smooth with the right amount of strength not to be boring, not overpowering... Just perfect for my palate. A beautiful light brown Ecuadorian habano wrapper combined with a Ecuadorian binder and dominican and nicaraguan fillers holding hands together to make this cigar truly unforgettable. Hints of cedar and white pepper right up front and then in the second half it's all about wood with a subtle nuttiness on the background. Finishing with some black pepper cedar notes without getting rough or harsh in the palate. Well constructed, perfect burning line and a gorgeous ash...what else can I ask for? With a limited production of just 1000 boxes my advice is to try it before it is too late, you won't be disappointed. Picked on 05/29/2016
Room 101 The Big Payback Connecticut Chavala 5 * 50
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Everybody knows I'm not a big fan of connecticut wrappers but this one caught my eye as soon as I saw the box. This is an extremely good looking cigar. The beautifully crafted band is white and gold, so simple but stunning, contrasting with the golden connecticut wrapper...I have to say: Matt Booth you are a genius. This cigar is mild but flavorful, with all the creaminess without the bitterness tipycally of the connecticut wrappers. It's amazing how a new generation of connecticut is invading the market; inexpensive cigars with lots of flavor, something you were only able to get in expensive cigars a few years ago, The strength fluctuates from mild to medium; very nutty with clove or cinnamon notes (I had to smoke it again to make sure) mild pepper contrasting with some oak in the background. Strong ash, gray almost white, with an even burn line and something very important to me: no relights needed. I have to admit I wasn't expecting all this and I only smoked it because it looked beautiful; it has now become part of my regular rotation. Picked on 05/08/2016
La Palina Red Label Toro 6 * 50
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This stick caught my eye inmediately. A beautiful red and gold label with the vintage image of a woman, classic and inviting....the wrapper is a nice hue of red, the cigar feels firm to the touch.  My previous experience with this brand was so pleasant so I was very excited to try this beauty.  In the first puff I got hit with a gust of pepper but that lasted a few seconds, after that the cigar mellows out and become sweet, with floral and fruity notes as the predominant flavors and fluctuating from mild to medium in strength. The second third was a pleasure: leather notes are the perfect companion for the floral flavors, with pepper and hints of herbal tones playing in my palate. The black pepper receded in the last third and is replaced by woody and sweet cedar notes giving the cigar a nice smooth finish.  Nice draw and a solid gray ash almost throughout the whole smoke but becoming a little bit flaky in the final third. No relights needed.  Medium strength, flavorful, a solid smoke, definitely worth a try !! Picked on 04/17/2016
La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial No. 2 5 * 50
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You don't need a special ocasion to smoke this stick. It is indeed a very good smoke, flavorful, creamy, smooth, and consistent. The ecuadorian sun grown wrapper perfectly combined with nicaraguan fillers and a nicaraguan binder. A symphony of earthy and coffee notes in the first third. Followed by caramel and cinnamon flavors in the middle and then transitioning to strong leather, chocolate, and coffe notes for the last third. Creamy and buttery with aroma of cedar and sweet cocoa, a solid gray ash, a nice draw...this cigar is always a pleasure. Picked on 04/03/2016
Arturo Fuente Rosado Sungrown Magnum R 58 51/4 * 58
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One of my favorite Fuente, nice looking, well balanced, and flavorful. This stick has become a classic. Sweet cedar and leather are the predominant flavors, with the right amount of pepper without it being overpowering and earthy and nutty notes to complement; making it a very complex smoke. A medium bodied cigar with a perfect solid ash and an almost perfect burning line. Very reasonable price that's worth every penny and more, this cigar could become a staple in your regular rotation as it has become in mine. Picked on 03/27/2016
Tatuaje Avion 12 Short Perfecto 55/8 * 52
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This is a gorgeous perfecto box press with a dark brown/ caramel wrapper with lots of veins. Smells of cedar and chocolate. It hits out right from the start with coffee, chocolate, and earthy notes that are very creamy and flavorful. The second half is more earthy with the black pepper being more constant, without losing the creaminess but intensifying on strength. The last part becomes a full body cigar and is predominantly earthy with some spice (cinnamon),leather and citrus notes playing around. Very balanced and complex, construction is flawless, perfect draw, beautiful ash. Starts as a medium body but ends as a full body smoke. Picked on 03/13/2016
RyJ by Romeo y Julieta Piramide 61/8 * 52
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A nicaraguan puro: wrapper, double binder, and fillers that are 100% nicaraguan tobacco. A light brown oily wrapper contrasting with the beautifully crafted white, red, and gold bands. A very happy looking cigar. Light up the stick and soon afterwards I could taste the strong notes of Cedar, coffee with some pepper, and then some subtler sweet, almost fruity notes in the background. In the second third the sweet, fruity notes are predominant, the pepper has almost disappeared and the cedar and earth are a nice complement to this party of flavors dancing in my palate. In the last third the pepper reached higher notes blending perfectly with the sweetness and essences of cedar and earth. Rich and complex, good draw, even burn line, solid ash...enjoyable and completely worth it. Picked on 02/28/2016
Espinosa Habano No. 5 6 * 52
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For the last 6 months I've tried so many new cigars. Some of them were excellent and others not so good, my palate was begging for the comfort of something familiar. I decided to revisit my favorites and Espinosa with it's new presentation was calling out for me. As soon as it lit, it fills my palate with chocolate and pepper notes followed by some floral tones and a wonderful aroma. It started as a medium but in the second third it's more a medium plus with the pepper taking control and some interesting fruity notes in the back ground. The last third the chocolate is predominant again and in perfect harmony with the pepper and the floral tones. Excellent draw and burn, nice gray ash and lots of flavor. Overall a very pleasant experience. Picked on 02/14/2016
OSOK Desmadroso 7 * 52
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Besides all the controversy surrounding it, this cigar catches your eye immediately because of the unusual name and presentation. The wrapper looks rustic with a lot of veins, smells sweet like figs, and very inviting to the palate. Once it is lit the first puffs start with a blast of pepper transitionig into a pleasant sweetness an inch or two later. The second third is about cocoa and coffee, smooth and flavorful, with floral notes on the background. The last third coffee and leather notes are the predominant flavors, with a little bit of leather, the strength pick up a little but has a nice smooth finish. Excellent draw and construction, nice gray ash, the cigar burned evenly most of the time and when it didn't ...it corrected itself. No need to relight it. Picked on 01/24/2016
La Flor Dominicana La Nox 61/2 * 50
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As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be different from any other LFD cigars. The packaging, the colors in the band, the whole concept is new and at first sight one wouldn't associate this cigar with this brand. The cigar has a dark and lustrous brazilian wrapper, it feels firm to the touch, and smells of earth and raisins. Once it's lit, the first thing I noticed is the lack of pepper... Which is unusual in cigars from La Flor. This stick is easy to enjoy, very rich in flavors but smooth on strength. Dark and sometimes milk chocolate, coffee and earth are the predominant flavors with a sweet mild aroma changing and playing together in the palate from the beginning to the end and some fruity citrus tones here and there. The burn was beautiful with a solid almost white ash and no relights needed it. It was delightful, a great smoke. I can see myself smoking this cigar very often. Picked on 01/04/2016
Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2016 Double Toro 6 * 60
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The dark brown wrapper is stunning and gives the cigar a sumptuous look: slightly oily, soft, rich. It starts with leathery, cedar notes and pepper underlying, a hint of sweet here and there makes it more interesting and complex. The same flavors continue during the second third with less pepper and the sweetness almost completely gone. At this point the draw is a little tight and becoming a problem. In the last third the flavor profile changes, featuring nutty, leather, and earthy notes complementing each other really well with some vanilla and cinnamon in the background. the draw is better now and I can really enjoy the cigar. This cigar is extremely aromatic, I was a little bit disappointed with the ash and the tight draw but nothing major. It has an almost even burn line most of the time. A pleasant smoke, pairs well with a nice espresso. Picked on 12/13/2015
Eiroa The First 20 Years Toro 6 * 54
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20 years in the cigar business is. a huge accomplishment and Christian Eiroa knows how to celebrate: making a great cigar. There's no doubt this is a celebratory cigar, the look is very festive. A beautiful bright red, black and gold band wrapped with a delicate light yellow paper makes it stand out from the rest. This box press stick has a rough, impeccable, maduro wrapper, very attractive and promising to the eyes and palate. The first third it's all about cacao notes with hints of espresso and a very subtle...nutmeg maybe? I'm not sure what it is but it goes really well with the other flavors. In the second third, the espresso notes intensify and take over combined with earthy and cedar tones in the background. In the last third the nutmeg (I'm still not sure what it is) becomes more than a whisper but cacao it's the predominant flavor now. Flawless construction, flavorful, aromatic, beautiful solid ash, an even burn line, plus, no need to relight. That's what I call perfection. Picked on 12/06/2015
Aging Room Small Batch Fortissimo M19 53/4 * 47
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One wouldn't think that such a small cigar has so much flavor. Everything in this stick is perfect, from the construction, the draw, the aroma, the impressive look: it's a box press with a perfecto shape. Wood and leather are the predominant notes from the start with hints of pepper and some cedar in the background. The pepper plays its way around being intense at times and imperceptible at others...but almost always there,except in the last third when some sweetness appears. Full flavor, full strength, this cigar delivers pure satisfaction to the senses. Aging Room makes the art of cigar making look easy. Picked on 11/23/2015
Crowned Heads Jericho Hill LBV 61/2 * 46
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This is a cigar with personality, it looks fantastic. the wrapper it's rough, strong and dark. My first impression: Cocoa and hints of nuts with a bit of spice, changing in the second third to become very earthy and sweet. Some spice coming back in the last third. Nice cool draw, perfect burning line and a gorgeous ash. Complex, full flavor, medium plus in strength but not overpowering. What a good smoke!! Picked on 11/16/2015
Aging Room Bin No. 1 D Minor 7 * 38
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This cigar is ready for the fashion world: it has the look of a top model. Stylish, classic and long. For sure I'm curious, the cigar looks amazing. Almond is the first flavor I notice, with hints of earth and some cedar. It has a sweetness that's hard to explain, hints of spices (cinnamon) and some spicy notes consistent during the first two thirds, that almost disappear in the last third. Creamy, flavorful, well balanced, excellent draw and perfect construction are some of the words one can use to describe this stick. Of course it's worth trying it! It's a great smoke overall. Picked on 11/09/2015
Illusione Ultra OP. No 1 63/4 * 56
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First impression: Love the glossy dark wrapper, the rectangular shape, the fruity sweet aroma...I'm ready to light up this baby. It begins with flavors of dark chocolate, a bit of sweetness, and a hint of spicy. In the second third the spicy notes and the sweetness intensify and coffee and espresso notes start to appear. In the last third the cigar is a complete medium plus both in strength and flavor. I was concerned about the draw because the cigar is packed really tight (in the good sense) but the draw was perfect as well as the burn. Overall it was an enjoyable smoke, well constructed and flavorful. Picked on 10/25/2015
Crowned Heads Headley Grange Dobles 61/8 * 50
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"I wish I could blend a cigar that taste the way the drums sound 'when the leeve breaks" and that's how this cigar was born. At first sight it looks like a regular cigar, nothing special, the packaging and the cigar' band are very simple, pretty traditional...oh boy, don't judge by its cover because nothing is what it seems!!!!. This cigar is full of flavor, very complex: is woody, creamy, sweet altogether with some spicy and cedar notes here and there. It's a burst of flavo