Jose's Picks

Jose
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Aladino Corojo Reserva LE No. 4 5x 44
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I was in the mood for a classic cigar, so I picked up the Aladino Corojo LE No. 4. It is a Honduran puro that’s stuffed with Corojo tobacco from filler to wrapper. I love everything about the Aladino brand. From its soft tissue packaging to its old-fashion box design and image of gentlemen in a social setting enjoying cigars, drinks, and each other’s company. As for the cigar, it doesn’t get any better. The wrapper had a warm reddish-brown hue and a slight sheen. Prior to lighting, I got some nice earthy notes with an overall sweetness off the foot and body. The cold draw was effortless and revealed more of the earthy notes. Once lit, this delectable corona offered some notes of cinnamon and vanilla. The smoke was just right, not too wispy and not too thick. Into the second third, the vanilla and cinnamon became more pronounced while the tobacco sweetness took a back seat. The burn was on point, and the ash was nice and white. The retro-hale was peppery. The finish was short but creamy. Up to this point, the strength was medium. However, it made a slight shift to the full side. The flavor profile stayed the course into the final third. I recommend this puro to smokers who want a traditional cigar with a great flavor profile. I’d pair it with a coffee, dark. Picked on 05/03/2022
Tatuaje Cohetes Sumatra 4 * 50
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“Cohetes” is Spanish for rockets. And the Tatuaje Cohetes Sumatra is a shorty that lives up to its name. Measuring just 4 inches long and with a 50-ring gauge diameter, the Cohetes fits the bill for when you want to enjoy a great smoke but are short on time. This little rocket had a lovely Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper that was a little veiny, but it did not affect performance. Pre-flight inspection revealed a solid construction and a soothing grassy, earthy aroma. Ignition was effortless. During the first stage, I got some a strong spicy aroma and a smooth draw. The second stage the spice was still present, but a tobacco/vanilla-like sweetness started to show through. Into the third stage, the sweetness tapered back, and the spice became more pronounced along with some earthy notes. The burn was on point and the ash was salt and peppery. The smoke was billowy. As for strength, it was a steady medium. The retro hale was peppery but on the mild side. The finish was long and spicy. Overall, the Cohetes had a nice flavorful payload for a short flight stick. I’d recommend this cigar if you are looking for a quick smoke. I’d pair this with cola and a splash of lime juice. Picked on 04/11/2022
Oscar Valladares McFly Toro 6 * 52
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Normally, I shy away from cigars with large flashy bands and “cutesy” names. It usually means they’re trying to sell the sizzle and not the steak. Personally, I like steak, medium-rare please. However, the Oscar Valladares McFly caught my attention with its eighties graphic design and not so subtle reference to the popular 80s movie about time-travelling. So, I picked up this medium-strength toro with its café au lait brown Mexican wrapper and shaggy foot. Faster than you can say, “... you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?” I smoked it. Pre-ignition, I picked up some earthy and barnyard notes. Once underway, I got some nice spicy notes and a grassy aroma. When the wrapper started to burn, I was greeted with a subtle creaminess. As my journey through time and space continued, the spice tapered down a bit and a nostalgic tobacco sweetness took over. Overall, the construction was firm, and the ash was a solid white. The smoke was thick, and the burn was sharp. I tried a couple of retro-hales and each time I picked up some peppery notes. Into the last leg, the tobacco sweetness stayed the course, but it was accompanied by the grassy aroma. I recommend the McFly to fans of Valladares cigars or those wanting to try something new. No flux capacitor or Calvin Klein underwear required. For a flavorful contrast, I’d pair it with an espresso. Picked on 03/23/2022
EP Carrillo La Historia Parientes 61/2 * 43
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In 2021, the EP Carrillo La Historia Parientes was awarded the number one Dominican Republic cigar of the year by “Cigar Lover Magazine.” And I can see why. This long, lean, box-pressed Lonsdale hit all the right buttons for me. It had strength, balance, complexity, and ease of smoking. Its savory, dark Mexican San Andres maduro wrapper had an imposing muscular look that telegraphed its potency. Construction wise it had a little play. The aroma off the body was grassy. The draw was smooth and effortless. Once lit, I picked up strong and imposing notes of spice and pepper, which did not let up. For a long cigar, it had no burn issues, nor did it go out. The smoke was wispy. The ash had a nice salt and pepper look to it. For the second part, the spice stayed strong, but subtle notes of earth and tobacco sweetness made their presence known. Into the final chapter of this family-themed cigar, the faint notes of coffee and coca appeared and helped mute the spice a bit. The cigar’s strength is listed as full, but it creeps up on you. It starts medium and slowly works its way-up to full. While it does pack a punch, its potency does not get in the way of its flavor profile and enjoyment. Overall, I recommend the EP Carrillo La Historia Parientes to aficionados who like a strong, balanced smoke. Pair it with a black American coffee to heighten the cigar’s boldness. Picked on 02/23/2022
Sixty by Rocky Patel Robusto 51/2 * 50
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When you want to create a cigar to celebrate a milestone event (like your sixtieth birthday), you had better use nothing but top-shelf tobacco. Well, the Sixty by Rocky Patel is just that. So, naturally, I had to smoke it in honor of Rocky Patel, a survivor and a thriver of the 90s cigar boom, whose passion for cigars is well-known. From its eye-catching, fully-dressed multi-bands to its mouthwatering Mexican San Andres wrapper this stick told me I was in for a treat. The construction was firm but with a little play. The aroma of the body and foot was all tobacco sweetness with hints of earth. The draw was all flow. The first few puffs greeted me with nothing but tobacco sweetness and aroma. Entering the second third, I picked up some noticeable spicy notes and the aroma shifted slightly to earthy and barnyard. The retro-hale was peppery and the finish was spicy. The smoke was wispy. It had a dark ash, but the burn was sharp. Into the final third, the tobacco sweetness came back accompanied by some grassy notes. Overall, this celebratory stick can be enjoyed on a special occasion or just because. I paired it with an Earl Grey tea made of leaves from Ceylon, without milk or sugar, to heighten the cigar’s strength. Picked on 01/31/2022
Crowned Heads Le Patissier 61/2 * 44
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I’ve always been a fan of the Crowned Heads brand, and I never hesitate to try one of their cigars. So, when I noticed they released Le Patissier, I just had to dive in. In case you’re wondering “Le Patissier” is French for “pastry chef.” The name alone told me I was in for a treat. Sweet! The cigar had a nice toothy, decadently delicious dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper that leaned towards the rustic side. The aroma off the body and foot had an all tobacco sweetness with hints of barnyard. The construction was a little soft, but it did not affect the smoke-ability of this Lonsdale. The cold draw was effortless. The first third was all tobacco, and the smoke was wispy and white. Despite the soft middle, the draw was all flow. Into the second third, I picked up earthy and barnyard notes. However, the tobacco flavor and aroma stayed in the forefront. For the final third, the tobacco sweetness crowded out the other flavors, but I was able to detect some spicy notes. As for strength, this stick stayed in the medium range. Overall, this is a good stick that works well as an everyday smoke. I paired it with an iced water and a splash of lemon juice. Picked on 01/10/2022
Macanudo Inspirado White Toro 61/2 * 50
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I was looking for a creamy smoke and Eureka! I found it in the Macanduo Inspirado White. Its smooth golden-hued Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper (that had been aged for 6 years) telegraphed that this was going to be a pleasant smoke. The aroma off the foot and body had hints of grass with touches of floral. The construction was firm. Upon lighting, I was surprised by some spicy and earthy notes with a mouthwatering sweetness in the background. For the second and final third, the sweetness became more pronounced as the spiciness played in the background. Overall, this stick had a slightly tight draw, but it did not affect the flow. The burn was sharp, and the ash leaned a little towards white. The finish was creamy and velvety. Strength wise, it was mild to medium. I’d recommend this cigar to fans of the Connecticut Shade wrapper or for aficionados looking for a rich, creamy smoke. Pairs well with a dark coffee or a latte. Picked on 12/21/2021
Plasencia Reserva Original Robusto 43/4 * 52
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Typically, I’m not a huge fan of short cigars. I prefer my sticks to be in the toro range. But! I’m always willing to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. It is why I chose the Plasencia Reserva Original Robusto, which is short in stature, but big in flavor. By the Plasencia name alone I knew I was in for a special treat. This Nicaraguan puro had a rustic, savory maduro wrapper, which served as an excellent background to its eye-catching band. Off the foot, I got a nice earthy aroma. The first few puffs revealed a warm, soothing woodsy flavor with hints of spice. Into the second third, the profile shifted a little with more of the earthiness revealing itself and the wood taking a backseat. As it approached the final third and beyond, the spiciness became more pronounced. Surprisingly, the finish was creamy with faint hints of pepper. Overall, the construction was firm, but with some give. The ash was mostly white, and the burn was sharp. The draw was effortless from beginning to end. As for strength, it was mostly medium to strong. I recommend the Plasencia Reserva Original Robusto to the veteran as well as the novice aficionado. I paired it with a cola and a splash of lime, which complimented the cigar’s flavor profile. Picked on 11/30/2021
H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez Toro 61/8 * 52
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The H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez Toro features a rustic, reddish Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper. Prior to lighting, this medium to full-strength cigar had a nice grassy and tobacco sweetness aroma to it. The construction was a little too firm for my tastes and the draw was a tad too tight, but neither affected the cigar’s performance. The first third started out as all natural tobacco sweetness with muted notes of spice. In the second third, the spice picked up, but the sweetness stayed in the forefront. The draw did loosen up at this point. This flavor profile didn’t change much in the final third, but the grassy notes did show through. The smoke was heavy, and the ash was dark throughout. Overall, this is a straight forward cigar with no hidden surprises but nonetheless it was enjoyable. I would pair it with a black coffee as a contrast to the cigar’s sweetness. Picked on 11/09/2021
Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper Robusto 5 * 50
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The Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper Robusto is the second release by, you guessed it, Alec and Bradley Rubin, the progenies of Alan Rubin, who founded the popular Alec Bradley Cigars brand. Whew! Talk about a name game. But one thing is certain, the Gatekeeper is one stand-up smoke that doesn’t play games. Its deep brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper had a nice oily sheen to it. The construction was firm, and the cold draw was slightly tight. It had a warm earthy aroma. At first light, I got a copious amount of smoke. The first couple of puffs were spicy and peppery with an underlying sweetness. Into the second third, I picked up some earthy and leathery notes, and the spice tapered down just a bit. The heat loosened up the cigar which allowed the smoke to flow easily. The burn was sharp, and the ash leaned a little towards the dark side. For the final third, the profile transitioned, and notes of espresso and chocolate took the forefront, but the spice was still noticeable. As the cigar reached the nub, I wish I had chosen a longer vitola because this “Gatekeeper” let me enter a garden of smoking delights. Overall, this is a medium-bodied cigar that makes for a great everyday stick. I would pair it with a dark American coffee, and after eating a hearty hamburger. Picked on 10/18/2021
El Viejo Continente Classic Brevium 43/8 * 56
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The El Viejo Continente Classic Brevium is a short stick with an Old World charm. I’ve been a fan of this brand for some time. I enjoy their blends and old style branding. I liked the Classic Brevium’s warm, light-brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper although it was a little on the veiny side, which didn’t affect the cigar’s performance. The construction was firm, and the cold draw was effortless. Prior to lighting, the aroma off the foot was chocolatey with some tobacco sweetness. From the first few puffs, I got a blast of pepper, which took me by surprise. Into the second third, the pepper died down a bit and some earthy and spicy notes revealed themselves. However, the retro hale was peppery. The finish was not too long but it was spicy. For the final third, the spice and pepper really died down and the tobacco sweetness took over with subtle floral notes. As for strength, this stick was medium to full. Overall, the burn was sharp, and the ash was grey. The draw was easy. I’d recommend the El Viejo Continente Classic Brevium for smokers looking for a traditional smoke at a great price. Picked on 09/23/2021
Drunk Chicken Mother Clucker Robusto 51/2 * 50
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When a neophyte cigar company goes by the name of Drunk Chicken and one of its sticks is called the “Mother Clucker,” you know I just had to try it. So, like a fox in a hen house, I checked out the Drunk Chicken’s product offerings and fixed my eyes on the Mother Clucker Robusto. Its reddish Nicaraguan wrapper was a little veiny, but the body’s construction was firm and had a little give. The cold draw was a little too loose for my tastes. Once lit, this chick-a-dee gave off a nice earthy aroma and the first couple of puffs had a warm tobacco sweetness. Into the second third, I got a bit of pepper in the retro hale, and the finish was long and creamy. This same flavor profile stayed the course pretty much into the final third, but some spicy notes came to the forefront. The draw was loose, but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of this cigar. The burn was sharp, and the ash had a nice salt-n-pepper look to it. Overall, the Drunk Chicken Mother Clucker cigar is a good mild-to-medium bodied, everyday smoke that should be part of your rotation. Picked on 09/03/2021
Tatuaje Black Petite Robusto 4 * 50
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When it comes to choosing a cigar size, I like to go for something in the 5”x 50-ring to 6”x 60-ring range. But! sometimes I like to try something new. It’s why I picked the Tatuaje Black Petite Robusto (a 4”x 50-ring petit corona) for this review. It is right sized for when you want a great smoke but are short on time. It’s also an excellent vitola if you live in a cold climate and have to smoke outdoors. This little guy with the big flavor is part of Tatuaje’s Black Label brand, which used to be a special reserve/events only cigar. And it received a 92-rating from Cigar Aficionado. Nice! It is a potent Nicaraguan puro with an oily red-hued wrapper. The construction was firm. Prior to lighting, I picked up an earthy aroma off the body. Once lit, I got a big blast of pepper that stayed strong to just past the halfway mark. The retro-hale was peppery, and the finish was long and spicy. Into the second and final third, a warm tobacco flavor accompanied by an earthy aroma took over, but the peppery notes stayed strong. Overall, the burn was sharp, and the ash had a nice salt and pepper look to it. This was a pretty powerful puro, so I paired it with a sweet and milky iced coffee to take off some of the edge. If you like your cigars short, potent, and peppery, then I highly recommend the Tatuaje Black Petite Robusto. Picked on 08/05/2021
Asylum Martes 13 54x6 6 * 54
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According to the song “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer.” That may be true for superstitions, but not for the Asylum Martes 13 54x6. This potent yet flavorful toro offers nothing but smoking bliss. In case you’re wondering, “Martes 13” is Spanish for Tuesday the 13th, which is the Spanish equivalent to “Friday the 13th.” But you won’t need to throw salt over your shoulder to enjoy this Honduran puro that’s made from all-Corojo tobacco. However, you should smoke it on a full-stomach because it is potent. The first third starts off with an unexpected but delectable sweetness that is shortly replaced by some spicy and woodsy notes. Into the second third, I picked up some earthy and nutty notes.  Towards the end, a memorable tobacco sweetness took over, but the spice was still present. As I mentioned earlier, this is a strong stick but it’s well-balanced. Overall, the construction was firm, the burn was sharp, and the draw was effortless. I recommend the Asylum Martes 13 for the veteran cigar aficionado who is not afraid of walking under ladders or any other superstition for that matter. And yes! I smoked this on “Martes 13.” Picked on 07/13/2021
Aladino Habano Toro Vintage Selection 6 * 50
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Every now and then you run across a cigar and say, “This is it!” For me, the Aladino Habano Toro Vintage Selection is just that cigar. From its minimalist designed band with its raised lettering to its smooth, café-au-lait brown Habano wrapper and beyond this is one sophisticated Honduran puro. Everything about this stick was perfect. The construction was firm with a slight give. The aroma coming off the body and foot had a nice nutty scent to it like a cone full of freshly roasted nuts that you get at the state fair. The cold draw was effortless, and it stayed this way throughout. Upon lighting, I picked up hints of spice and pepper. The retro-hale was spicy but not overbearing. The finish was long and creamy with some pepper lightly dancing on my tongue. Into the second third, this gentle cigar’s profile transitioned to a nice warm tobacco sweetness with the nutty aroma and the spice playing in the background. The ash was nice and white, and the smoke was somewhere between thick and thin. In the final third, the tobacco still held center stage with the spice receding into a fond memory. I rarely smoke a cigar down to the nub, but I did not want to let go of this fine stick, so I did. There is not much more for me to say than this is another fine cigar from JRE Tobacco. If you are looking for a box worthy cigar that will give you a very pleasurable smoking experience, then I highly recommend the Aladino Habano Toro Vintage Selection. Picked on 06/08/2021
Sobremesa El Americano 6 * 52
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I’m a big fan of things that clash and contrast. It is why the Sobremesa El Americano’s elegantly minimalist band and foot band contrasting against the cigar’s muscular, dark, oily Ecuadorian Habano wrapper got my attention. The wrapper was a bit veiny, and its construction felt firm. Prior to lighting, the body and foot had a barnyard and earthy aroma with an underlying tobacco sweetness. Upon lighting the draw was tight, but I gave the body a little massage as I rolled the cigar in my fingers and let it burn a little. I did not get much flavor from the first couple of puffs, but the warm earthy and barnyard aroma was present. However, the draw did get looser, and a nice tobacco sweetness revealed itself. This profile stayed pretty much the same throughout the first third. In the second third, some spicy notes accompanied the tobacco flavor. A strong peppery sensation greeted me when I did a retro hale. Surprisingly, the finish was thick and creamy with hints of spice. The profile didn’t change in the final third, but the barnyard and earthy aroma receded. Strength wise, this stick flexed towards the strong side, but it was not overpowering. If you’re a Sobremesa fan, you’re going to love it. If you haven’t tried one, I recommend it. The Sobremesa El Americano is best paired with a strong coffee or after a hearty steak dinner. Picked on 05/14/2021
Epic Habano Lancero 7 * 40
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The Epic Habano Lancero was one unassuming, but good-looking stick. Its band featured the Epic name in a Gothic or Medieval font style. Underneath the band was a smaller band that simply read “Habano.” I have always appreciated simplicity in style and design and this Epic fits the bill, epically. The cigar’s Ecuadorian Habano wrapper was veiny, and it had a light oily sheen to it. The construction was on the softer side of firm. Pre-light, a warm tobacco aroma came off the body and foot. The cold draw was effortless, but it was a little too loose for my tastes. I was able to pick up a hint of chocolate off the cold draw. Into the first third, this lancero had a sharp peppery and spicy flavor to it. The retro-hale was peppery but not overwhelming. The finish was thick and spicy. At some point in the second third, the flavor profile transitioned. The spice tapered down, and the tobacco flavor took over all the way to the end. The strength was a steady medium. The draw stayed loose throughout. The burn was good. The ash had a nice salt and pepper look to it, and the smoke was wispy. Overall, I’d recommend the Epic Habano Lancero to smokers who want to make a switch from thick cigars to something longer and leaner. Picked on 04/15/2021
Harvester Connecticut Churchill 7 * 50
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Like most cigar aficionados, I like the expensive stuff. But there are times when I don’t want to shell out $20 or more on a cigar. However, I still want a good quality smoke. Eureka! I think I found it in the Harvester & Co. Connecticut Churchill. This is a little-known cigar with an interesting back story that was recently brought back by Altadis U.S.A. It features a beautiful Connecticut shade wrapper, and it is filled with Nicaraguan tobacco. Plus, it is made by Plasencia Cigars. At slightly over $5 a pop for a Churchill, who could ask for more? The cigar was named after a British racehorse from the late 1800’s., which was featured on the original packaging when the brand was first introduced in the mid-twentieth century. It now features a duck in flight. The cigar itself had a fairly firm construction with little give. Before lighting, I detected a nice grassy aroma and tobacco sweetness coming off the foot. Out of the gate, the tobacco aroma and flavor took the lead with the grassiness running a close second. Into the second lap, the tobacco sweetness stood in front with some spicy notes hugging the rail, and a very peppery retro hale. In the final stretch, the tobacco sweetness commanded the lead all the way past the finish line. Overall, this long, lean stick had an effortless draw with a sharp burn, and the ash leaned a little on the dark side. The strength was mild to medium. I highly recommend this cigar for smokers looking for a great everyday stick. For the money, the Harvester & Co. Connecticut is a winner! Picked on 03/15/2021
Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Toro 6 * 52
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Kintsugi is the Japanese art of taking broken pottery and putting it back together using gold lacquer as a bonding agent. This centuries old technique enhances the pottery’s beauty. The Alec & Bradley Kintsugi applies this principle by using the cigar as a metaphor for the bond the joins the tobacco to the cigar artisan and to the smoker. And this stick is definitely a work of fine craftsmanship if not art. Its Habano maduro wrapper had barely visible veins that resembled the lines on a piece of Kintsugi pottery. The construction was firm. A nice warm tobacco and chocolatey aroma came off the foot with a very slight hint of earth. The cold draw was effortless and revealed a little sweetness. Once lit, this artfully crafted toro impressed me with its effortless draw, and chocolatey notes underscored by a not so muted tobacco aroma. Into the second third, some spice expressed itself with the chocolatey notes receding into the background. The retro hale was peppery but it was not overwhelming. The finish was short and a little spicy. As it entered the last third, the Kintsugi slightly transition from chocolatey to tobacco sweetness. Overall, the Alec & Bradley Kintsugi toro was a well-balanced cigar that hovered between medium and full strength. I recommend it for aficionados who enjoy an artfully crafted cigar that delivers a wonderful aroma and taste. Picked on 02/19/2021
Macanudo Heritage Nuevo Churchill 7 * 50
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I’m always leery of cigars with big labels, but sometimes I like to take a chance, especially if it comes from an iconic brand like Macanudo. It is why I picked their Heritage Nuevo Churchill. The cigar is cloaked by a head band, a foot band and a big label designed with an Old-World style map of Ecuador which let me know this cigar had an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. After I carefully peeled off the label and footer, I was treated to a beautiful light-tan wrapper, which had a nice grassy aroma and faint tobacco sweetness. Construction-wise this stick was solid. The cold draw was effortless and revealed a buttery creaminess. The first third had a rich creamy smoothness to it that was accompanied with soft tobacco notes and faint hints of spice. The retro-hale was creamy and the finish was long and velvety with hints of spice. During the second third, the spice picked up a little, but the creaminess stayed on. Into the final third, the tobacco sweetness slowly transitioned into the forefront. Overall, the Macanudo Heritage Nuevo is a mild and mellow cigar that lives up to its oversized label. I recommend it to all cigar aficionados. If you get the Churchill, I suggest you block out at least one solid hour because you will want to immerse yourself in this splendid cigar. Picked on 01/26/2021
Montecristo Espada Oscuro Guard 6 * 50
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What do you get when Altadis’s Grupo de Maestros and Plasencia Cigars collaborate to make a premium cigar? You get the Montecristo Espada Oscuro Guard – a Nicaraguan puro that captures the essence of this Central American country’s finest tobacco. Its eye-catching maduro wrapper has a reddish hue to it and an oily sheen that is begging to be smoked, which I did. Prior to lighting, I was able to pick up a mouthwatering tobacco sweetness. The cold draw was a little tight, but once lit this cigar opened up nicely. During the first third, it was all tobacco with some faint hints of chocolate. The retro-hale was peppery but not overpowering. The finish left a spicy sensation. The smoke was billowy, and the ash was a little dark. The Espada Oscuro’s flavor profile did not change much during the second and final thirds, but that’s all right because it had one of the most comforting tobacco aroma and flavor I have smoked in a long time. As for strength, this is a nice medium-full strength smoke that’s perfect for both the novice and seasoned cigar lovers. Overall, this is a great straight-forward cigar that will appeal to most if not all aficionados. Picked on 01/11/2021
Balmoral Anejo XO Connecticut Gran Toro 6 * 52
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The Balmoral Anejo XO Connecticut Gran Toro is one beautiful cigar. Its smooth, slightly veiny honey-hued Connecticut shade wrapper let me know I was in for a very special treat. The main band and its accompanying footer band has a very elegantly understated look. In case you’re wondering, the “XO” means “eXceptionally Old”. The blend was developed by Boris Wintermans of Royal Agio using carefully aged tobaccos. A pre-light sniff test revealed a rich tobacco aroma with some warm earthy notes. The construction had a nice firmness to it with just a little play. After the first couple of puffs, I was greeted with an opulent creaminess coupled with a sweet tobacco aroma. The retro hale was slightly peppery and the finish was smooth, creamy and long. Somewhere between the first and second third, I detected some faint grassy notes. The smoke was not too billowy but at the same time it wasn’t wispy. It was just right. Into the second third, I picked up a very mellow vanilla flavor that enhanced the tobacco flavor and aroma. In the final third, the vanilla was still there but it receded a little and the tobacco became prominent. The burn was sharp, and the ash tended to lean towards dark. Overall, this is a smooth and easygoing cigar. I recommend the Balmoral Anejo XO Connecticut to the aficionado who is looking for a refined smoking experience. Picked on 12/24/2020
Fratello Arlequin Toro 61/4 * 54
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The Fratello Arlequin gets its name from a light-hearted and wily character typically found in Italian comedy theatre. Arlequin is Spanish for Harlequin. But let me tell you, this cigar is no joke. Its eye-pleasing Mexican maduro wrapper was the lightest maduro I have ever seen. Overall construction was firm and had some give. Prior to lighting, I picked up a sweet aroma with a subtle earthy note. During the first act, the Arlequin’s rich tobacco sweetness took center stage with spicy notes playing a good supporting role. The earthy notes revealed themselves a little bit more. The draw was a little tight, but it didn’t affect the smoke. The retro hale was peppery and the finish was a little spicy. In the second act, the Arlequin’s warm tobacco flavor and earthy aroma shared the spotlight without upstaging each other. The draw did improve during this act. As for the smoke it was thick, and the ash was white and dark. The burn was sharp throughout without missing a line. The spiciness receded to the background, but its presence was still felt. During the final act, the tobacco flavor delivered a warm, mellow monolog that merited a standing ovation. Strength wise the Arlequin was on the medium side although it did start a little strong. Overall, the Fratello Arlequin delivered an excellent performance that is definitely worth experiencing again. Picked on 11/06/2020
Acid Kuba Arte Keo #2 513/16 * 54
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The Acid Kuba Arte Keo #2 is one of five commemorative cigars Drew Estate created to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. Drew Estate commissioned five well-known Brooklyn graffiti artists to design the band for the cigars and its box, which was made to look like the company’s iconic water tower. The cigar is named after SCOTCH70 who is known for his traditional graffiti style. As for the cigar, it is an artfully handmade torpedo with a dark rustic maduro wrapper that screams “Smoke me,” which I did. Its construction was nice and firm and had very little give. Before lighting, I gave it a sniff test and picked up a nice soothing floral aroma. The cold draw was effortless. Its sweet tip was just right. Once lit, the Keo #2 had a nice mellow tobacco flavor and aroma to it. The smoke flowed easily through the cigar despite the firm construction. The retro-hale revealed more of the floral aroma and the finish was creamy with subtle hints of spice. The burn was sharp, and the ash was the whitest I have seen in a cigar in a long time. Throughout the second and final third, the rich tobacco flavor and aroma took center stage while the floral notes took a back seat. The spice did pick up in the last third, but it was not overpowering. Strength-wise, the Keo #2 is medium with a slight leaning towards strong. Overall, the Acid Kuba Arte Keo #2 is definitely a work of art that truly personifies why the Acid brand by Drew Estate has been a favorite among cigar aficionados for the last two decades. Picked on 10/15/2020
My Father No. 1 Robusto 51/4 * 52
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From its elaborate and tastefully ornate band to its rose-tinted Ecuadorian Colorado maduro wrapper, the My Father No. 1 robusto is one eye-catching stick, that definitely got my attention. Typically, I’m not a big fan of heavily decorated bands, but this one seemed to capture the essence of old-style cigar bands without being too flashy or overdone. As for the wrapper, it could not be any more perfect even though its veins were a little visible. The construction was firm with very little give. The aroma coming off the body and foot was all tobacco with some spice. The cold draw was effortless, and the flavor coming through it was spicy. Once lit, it delivered a rich tobacco flavor with more of the spice coming through. The retro-hale had a strong peppery feel. Its long spicy finish danced on my tongue for some time. From the first to the final third, the flavor profile stayed consistent. Overall, the draw was perfect, and the burn was sharp. Strength-wise, it was a medium to full-strength cigar that did not fight the warm tobacco flavor. I’d recommend the My Father No. 1 robusto to aficionados who like a well-made stick that has a consistent flavor. Picked on 06/23/2020
Sobremesa Brulee Double Corona 7 * 54
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When I first spotted this long and not too lean stick, the first thing I noticed was the nearly flawless Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper with its barely visible veins and well-appointed, triple-seam cap. The next thing was the elegant band that sported a die-cut gold crown and the initials “DTT” (for Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust) on the back, and its matching footer band with the words “Sobremesa” printed in raised lettering. Simplicity in design, sophistication in presentation is the best way to describe it. When I slipped this beauty out of its cellophane package, I was greeted with a faint tobacco aroma accompanied by warm pleasant notes of grass, leather, and earth. The cold draw was effortless and revealed more of its grassy base. The first third stayed true to the grassiness and earthiness. The retro-hale was peppery, but barely noticeable. The Brulee’s finish was creamy and long-lasting. During the second third, the grassy and earthy flavors died down and an agreeable tobacco flavor took over. The ash was dark and held to about 1 1/2" before gently dropping off. The burn was on point, and the smoke was white and fell somewhere between wispy and billowy. In the final third, faint notes of leather and earth introduced themselves underscored by the tobacco flavor. Overall, the construction was firm, but with a little give. As for strength, the Sobremesa Brulee is one mild to medium stick that would make a great morning smoke paired with a strong, robust coffee for an interesting contrast. Picked on 05/13/2020
Liga Privada Unico Papas Fritas 41/2 * 44
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For some time now, I’ve been looking for a short smoke that I can enjoy after mowing the lawn or while firing up some steaks on the BBQ. Eureka! I found it. Handmade at the La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua, the Liga Privada Unico Papas Fritas is one small fry that fits the bill. Appearance-wise, this little guy has a rustic, muscular, dark USA Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper that is just begging you to smoke it. The pig-tail cap gives this serious looking stick a whimsical touch. As for the construction, it was firm with a little give in the middle. The pre-light sniff test revealed an all tobacco aroma. The cold draw was effortless with some of the tobacco flavor coming through. It was all tobacco in the first third. As this little potato stick of a cigar entered the second third, the tobacco flavor took a back seat and some spicy and earthy notes took over. It was pretty much the same in the final third. As for the retro-hale, it was earthy. The finish was long with touches of pepper dancing on the tongue. The smoke was billowy, and the burn was on point. The ash started out white, but it turned more salt and pepper as the smoke progressed. Strength-wise, I’d put it in the medium to almost full category. I recommend the Liga Privada Unico Papas Fritas to the cigar enthusiast who is looking for a quick smoke but doesn’t want to compromise on flavor or quality. Picked on 04/08/2020
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
CAO Orellana Limited Edition Toro 6 * 52
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Like all things that come from the Amazon, the CAO Orellana Limited Edition Toro is a dark, mysterious, and enticing stick. In lieu of a paper band, the Orellana has a dark cord wrapped around its length. Prior to smoking, I unraveled the cord. It came off without a hitch. Although the cord left a slight impression on the wrapper, it did not damage it. Appearance-wise, this is one muscular-looking stick. Its reddish-brown wrapper is dark, toothy and somewhat veiny. I noticed a slight firmness to it when I did a squeeze test. Prior to lighting, I sniffed its foot, and I got an earthy and tobacco aroma with hints of chocolate. The cold draw was tight, and I could taste some chocolate. Once lit the draw’s tightness loosened up a bit after a few puffs and after I massaged the body a little. Flavor-wise, I got a deep, rich tobacco sweetness that was accented with spice. This flavor carried through the entire smoke. The retro-hale was peppery. Strength-wise, the Orellana starts out medium, and gradually builds its way up to strong, very strong. I urge you smoke it on a full stomach. During the second third, the spice and tobacco flavor stayed the course, but the pepper in the retro-haled died down a bit. The draw got looser at this point. The burn was on point and the ash was thick. The smoke was billowy, but not too much. In the final third, there was not much change in the flavor profile, except that the earthiness picked-up. Also, the strength became more pronounced. I recommend the CAO Orellana LE Toro to the aficionado who is not afraid of an anaconda-strength stick and wants to explore Brazilian tobacco. Picked on 01/06/2020
San Cristobal Quintessence Robusto 51/2 * 50
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From its artfully designed band to its natural Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, the San Cristobal Quintessence robusto was a joy to behold. But! It was an even better delight to smoke. Its beautiful light-brown wrapper was a little veiny and slightly cracked at the foot, but this minor imperfection did not affect its performance. The construction was firm and had a little give. I sniffed its foot and got a nice hint of spice. After cutting the head, I did a cold draw and was greeted with more spice, but it was not overpowering. During the first third, I was surprised by this stick’s mildness and sweetness. The first retro-hale was a little peppery. The finish coated my palate with a warm creaminess. As I puffed on, a sweet tobacco flavor made its presence known. Overall, the draw was effortless. The Quintessence’s ash had a nice salt and peppery look, and its burn was sharp. Into the second third, the tobacco flavor pulled back and the spice picked up. The strengthen gradually shifted from mild to medium. Into the final third, the tobacco flavor picked up, but the spice stayed true. It took me 45 minutes to smoke the San Cristobal Quintessence robusto, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’d recommend this cigar to aficionados who enjoy a morning smoke with their coffee. Picked on 12/10/2019
Punch Diablo Stump 41/2 * 60
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The Punch Diablo Stump is one hell of a short perfecto that’s right sized if you don’t have a lot of time, but you want to smoke a stick that packs a devilish punch. It measures 4 1/2 inches long with a hefty 60 ring gauge at the foot which tapers down to a smaller and manageable gauge at the head. But, don’t let its small size fool you. Its bold, dark no nonsense Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper telegraphed this stick’s potency. A strong tobacco and spice aroma jabbed me right on the nose when I peeled off the cellophane wrapper. The cold draw was spicy, and I could detect some pepper. The first couple of puffs were spicy and strong. The tobacco flavor was there but it was subdued by the spice. The retro-hale was peppery. The Diablo has a long-lasting finish that is spicy. The smoke was billowy, and it had a bluish tint to it. The draw was tight, but by rolling and pressing the body it got looser. Strength-wise this little devil started out medium, but it picked up in the second and final third. Warning! Don’t smoke this stick on an empty stomach. During the second third, the spice settled down a bit, and the tobacco and wood flavor picked up. The ash was white. In the final third the spice came back to the forefront, but it did not over-power the tobacco flavor. I’d recommend the Punch Diablo Stump to the veteran cigar lover. Its strong and delivers one spicy punch after the other. Picked on 11/25/2019
Fratello Navetta 60 Enterprise 6 * 60
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When a NASA employee, who is drawing a six-figure salary, walks away from his job to pursue his one true passion, I take notice. Especially, when that passion is cigars. Luckily for me, Omar de Frias, cigar crafter and founder of Fratello Cigars did just that! For my staff pick, I chose the Fratello Navetta Enterprise. It’s hefty 6” x 60 ring size instantly told me that I was going to be in for a bumpy ride. I fastened my seatbelt and hit the ignition switch on my lighter. The Navetta Enterprise has a nice solid construction. Its dark Ecuadorian wrapper was a little bit veiny, but it did not affect the smoke. A pre-lit sniff revealed a strong natural tobacco scent. Once lit, the Enterprise boldly transported me to a wonderful world of flavor and aroma. Throughout the first third, I mostly tasted the tobacco, but a little bit of sweetness and cedar started to introduce itself in the second third. In the final third, the tobacco flavor stayed right on course without wavering while subtle notes of cocoa and nuts introduced itself. The burn was razor sharp and the ash was mostly white. Having a Nicaraguan filler added to the Enterprise’s strength and gave it a spicy edge. Strength wise, the Navetta Enterprise had all its thrusters on. It was a good thing I had had a hearty dinner before burning this big stick. However, the strength did not overpower the flavor making it a well-balanced stick. I would recommend the Fratello Navetta Enterprise to a veteran cigar smoker because of its strength and flavor. Picked on 11/04/2019
Acid Blue (Remi) Kuba Maduro 5 * 54
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The Acid Blue (Remi) Kuba Maduro is a good stick if you just want a cigar to help you unwind after a long day. The dark, USA Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper was a little on the veiny side, but it did not affect the smoking. The cold draw was effortless. This Acid’s construction was firm with a little give. Once lit, the Acid Blue Kuba Maduro took me on a sweet, mellow trip with notes of chocolate and a slight heightened sense of spice. It was blissful. The retro-hale was a little peppery. The draw was smooth. It hardly felt like I was smoking a cigar. The first third started mild, but as the Kuba entered the second and final third, it picked up in strength. However, it never passed medium. The ash had a nice contrasting black and white look to it. The only slight bummer of this Acid trip was the burn. It started to canoe in the first third, but it straightened itself without having to cut to retouch it. Overall, if you’re looking for a smoke that is nice and easy, I suggest you tune in and lit up an Acid Blue (Remi) Kuba Maduro. Picked on 07/16/2019
La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press Robusto 51/2 * 50
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I have always heard of Spanish Pressed cigars, but I have never run into one until I spotted the La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press. In a nutshell, Spanish Press is a technique in which cigars are placed in wooden trays with dividers, and then uniform pressure is applied to the cigars. Next, the trays are pressed to establish the cigar’s final shape. Afterwards, the cigars are placed in specially sized boxes that help the cigars keep their shape. This centuries old method helps remove air pockets and ensures a flawless draw and increases smoke yield. Square shaped, the La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press had a solid construction with a little give. The dark Nicaraguan wrapper’s veins were hardly noticeable. Sniffing the foot, I was greeted with a strong tobacco aroma with some barnyard notes. The cold draw was effortless. During the first act, the tobacco flavor took center stage, and the draw was perfect. The strength was medium. However, it did get stronger throughout the second and final thirds. Towards the end I really felt it. The ash was on point, and the burn was razor sharp. The retro-hale was smooth. During the second act, the tobacco flavor settled in and let the barnyard flavor bask in the limelight. In the final act, the strength increased but it did not upstage the tobacco flavor. Overall, the smoke was thick, fluffy, almost cloud like. I recommend the La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press to aficionados who like a cigar that transitions in strength. Picked on 06/13/2019
Psyko Seven Nicaragua Robusto 5 * 50
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I’m always leery about two things when it comes to choosing a new cigar: 1) a gimmicky band and 2) a cigar created by a new blender. The Psyko Seven Nicaragua falls under both categories. However, there was nothing gimmicky or risky about this smooth smoke by new kid on the block: Indiana Ortez. If you haven’t heard the name before, take note because you will be hearing it a lot in the years to come. Who is Indiana Ortez? She’s a newly minted blender and daughter of Omar Ortez, a legend in the tobacco business. So you know she’s got tobacco flowing through her veins. And, Indiana must know what she’s doing, because cigar giant Ventura Cigars gave her the green light to create a new blend for them. As for the band? Staying in step with the Psyko Seven brand, the top band is made to look like a prescription receipt complete with Indiana’s signature as the attending physician. Clever. Peel this big band off and there is your standard cigar ring. A little too flashy for me, but if the sizzle supports the steak, then why not? Now about the cigar itself. An alluring, blonde Nicaraguan USA Connecticut Shade wrapper with barely visible veins revealed itself when I removed the Rx band. Underneath this smooth wrapper is a binder and filler made of Nicaraguan tobaccos. The construction was solid with a little give. Sniffing the foot, I detected a nice earth and tobacco aroma. The cold draw was smooth. Once lit, the Psyko Seven Nicaragua felt like it was going to be peppery. The retro-hale did sting my throat a little. However, as I worked my way through the first third, this stick started to get milder. The flavors settled in and stayed steady throughout the second and third acts. The smoke was not thick, but it wasn’t wispy either. The ash was excellent and the burn was sharp. I’d recommend the Psyko Seven Nicaragua to the aficionado looking for something new or looking to try a Connecticut Shade. Either way, they will not be disappointed. Picked on 06/10/2019
Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro No. 1 5 * 54
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I’ve always been attracted to cigar brands that take a straight forward approach to their packaging and bands. Pete Johnson and his Tatuaje cigars is just one brand that takes this tactic. It’s what caught my eye and drove me to pick the Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro No. 1. Its simple, orange band with gold geometric outline stood out among a field of cigars that were vying for attention with their overly ornate bands. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the explosion of artistic expression that goes into decorating cigar boxes and bands, but I’m a minimalist and lean towards the less is more approach. As to the cigar itself, the appearance was rugged with some veins showing. The Nuevitas Jibaro’s construction was solid from cap to foot. I liked the unfinished foot that exposed a bit of the binder. It gave this cigar a homemade look. A pre-light sniff let me know I was in for a spicy ride. Once lit, the spice came on strong. The retro-hale was peppery. The ash held strong, the smoke was wispy, and the burn was sharp and flawless. Spice was the dominant flavor with hints of earth and pepper. Although it took me forty minutes to smoke the Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro No. 1, it didn’t feel that way. It was smooth sailing all the way. This is my kind of cigar. You can enjoy it while reading a book, grilling a steak, or watching the grass grow. It doesn’t get in the way. Yet, once you’re done smoking it you feel satisfied. This cigar is listed as full-strength, but I would put it in the mild- to medium-strength category. I’d recommend the Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro for both the veteran and newbie aficionado who likes a cigar that is smooth and unassuming. Picked on 05/27/2019
El Viejo Continente Maduro Robusto 5 * 52
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The El Viejo Continente comes in two wrappers. The Classic, which has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and the Maduro, which has a Mexican San Andres wrapper. I am a little fond of Mexican San Andres tobacco so I chose the Maduro for this review. The El Viejo Continente Maduro has a silver head band with an Old World-style map. The top edge of the band has a burned or worn look to it. The brand’s name is placed over the map and “from Nicaragua by Daniel Guerrero” is written on the bottom. This stick also comes with a silver-colored, cloth foot band, which gives it a classy look. The El Viejo Continente Maduro has a dark, rugged, veiny wrapper with clearly visible wrapper seams. There was not much give when I performed a squeeze test. A pre-light sniff of the foot revealed some subtle flavors. The cold draw was very smooth. The first third revealed a muted tobacco flavor accented with a sweet herbal note. The draw was effortless. This cigar produced a lot of billowy white smoke. Strength-wise, the El Viejo Continente Maduro was mild from beginning to end. During the second third, the draw got a little tight, but it wasn’t too bad. By gently squeezing the body a little, I was able to fix the draw issue. The El Viejo Continente Maduro’s flavor profile did not change throughout the second and final third. Overall, I would recommend the El Viejo Continente Maduro for the cigar aficionado who likes a mild smoke. Picked on 05/07/2019
The Circus Magician 6 * 54
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Lions! Tigers! Bears! Oh, my! The Circus by El Veijo Continente Magician has come to town. But, enough clowning around. Step right up folks and let me tell you all about this big top cigar. So what got my attention? Definitely the band with its inviting red circus tops, blue and white stripes and the words “The Circus” in gold with a red outline. All of which is surround by a big red border that is festooned with gold stars. But mostly, it was the contrast the band made against the natural, almost blonde Habano wrapper that drew me to this spectacle. A gentle press up and down this stick’s body revealed a solid construction. The cold draw was nice and easy and hinted of tobacco. Once lit, The Circus by El Veijo Continente revealed its mild, mellow tobacco flavor. I did a retro-hale during the first third and it gave a slight peppery sting. I was expecting The Circus by El Veijo Continente Magician to perform a sleight of hand trick into the second third and drastically change its flavor profile, but no. This prestidigitator stayed the course with its mild strength and tobacco flavor. The burn was even, and the ash held well. For the finale, I was expecting this Magician to pull a flavorful rabbit out of its hat, but there were no smoke and mirrors. Just a lovely, easy-going tobacco flavor that I would pair with a coffee. I would recommend The Circus by El Veijo Continente for the cigar lover who is looking for a good smoke first thing in the morning. Picked on 04/29/2019
Herrera Esteli Habano Limited Edition Lancero 7 * 38
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Long, lean, and packed with flavor, the Herrera Esteli Habano Limited Edition Lancero (or long panatela if you are so inclined) was well worth the 47 minutes it took me to smoke. Made by Drew Estate’s master blender Willy Herrera, this namesake stick features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Honduran binder, and stuffed with Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo fillers. Nice! The squeeze test revealed some give but overall the construction was solid. The cold draw let me know that its length was not going to affect its performance. Appearance-wise, the Herrera Esteli Habano Limited Edition was as gorgeous as it was long. The wrapper was toothy, veiny, and it had a pleasant reddish hue to it. The first third informed me that I was in for a spicy ride. The wrapper’s visible seams put me on notice for any burn issues, but I did not encounter any. And what about the ash? All I can say is that this stick wore its ash proudly like a salt and pepper colored peacock during the mating season. The retro-hale confirmed the peppery nature of this stick. By the second third, the profile shifted slightly to a more pronounced tobacco flavor. The Herrera Esteli Habano Limited Edition’s aroma was all tobacco without being overpowering. There was a shift back to pepper in the final third, but the tobacco flavor and aroma did not back down. Long story short, I would recommend this stick to anyone who’s trying to elongate their smoking portfolio. Picked on 04/22/2019
Hoyo La Amistad Black Rothschild 41/2 * 50
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I’m not sure if the folks at AJ Fernandez were thinking about Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” when they created the Hoyo La Amistad Black, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had. Because, this is one dark stick. Luckily, it did not resemble a “horror” in a shape, form, or fashion. Anyway without any further literary references, let’s get to the “heart” of the matter. Brazenly dark, bold, and strong, the Hoyo La Amistad Black sports an Ecuadorian Sumatra-seed wrapper that was a little veiny. And to make things darker, the Hoyo La Amistad Black’s wrapper masks a Mexican San Andres binder and a Nicaraguan Habano filler. A pre-light sniff hinted of the rich tobacco flavor that awaited. Construction-wise, this cigar was firm but with a little give, which meant it was well-built. The cold draw was nice and easy. The first third let me know this stick was going to be strong and with lots of smoke. The retro-hale was peppery. The draw was nice and smooth. An undeniably strong tobacco flavor carried itself from the second to the final third, and the heavy smoke continued from start to finish. Will I smoke this stick again? Oh, yeah! I recommend the Hoyo La Amistad Black if you like a strong stick, but I strongly suggest you smoke it after a hearty meal. Picked on 04/16/2019
Acid Red Krush 4 * 32
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Continuing on my Acid trip (cigar that is), I smoked the Acid Red Krush small panatela recently. It had a nice brown Cameroon wrapper, which was a little cracked. Taking a cold draw, I could taste the Red’s infused flavoring, which was on the sweet side. Once lit, the Acid Red’s flavor revealed itself and it stuck around throughout the first third. As I entered the second third and into the final third, the instilled flavor died out. However, it was replaced by this stick’s warm tobacco flavor. Throughout the smoking session, the draw was a bit tight. The wrapper unraveled a little, but it did not affect my enjoyment. Will I try the Acid Red Krush again? Yes! Especially, the small panatela vitola. Picked on 04/08/2019
Acid Purple (Juggernaut) Krush 4 * 32
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I’ve never been a fan of flavor infused cigars. But, as they say, “never say never”. So when a friend offered me an Acid Purple Krush, I didn’t it refuse it. I liked the small panatela vitola (4” by 32 ring). Lately, I don’t have time to smoke big, long cigars, so this shorty was something I could spend 15 minutes with. The Acid Purple Krush has a dark, maduro wrapper with a Nicaraguan filler. The wrapper on mine was a little cracked and it started to unravel, but it did not greatly affect the smoking experience. A pre-lit sniff hinted of anise and mint. The cold draw was nice and easy. From the first third and all the way through, the Acid Purple had a straight forward tobacco flavor with some sweetness and a little peppery. Which surprised me, since I was expecting the anise and mint to become more pronounced. The draw was a little tight, and the burn was consistent throughout. Overall, I liked the Acid Purple Krush because unlike other flavor-infused sticks, the added flavors were not overpowering. If you like flavored cigars, but don’t have a lot time, I really recommend the Acid Purple (Juggernaut) Krush. Picked on 03/27/2019
PDR El Trovador Maduro Corona Gorda 6 * 46
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Not too long I smoked a cigar that had a Mexican San Andres filler, and I really enjoyed it. So when I heard that the PDR El Trovador Maduro’s wrapper was made of Mexican San Andres tobacco, I decided to give it a shot. From an appearance point of view, the El Trovador (which is Spanish for troubadour) has a dark, rugged, and veiny wrapper that made me think it might cause some problems down the road. The band is plain and unassuming. It reminded me of another famous brand. Can you guess which one? Over the years, I’ve noticed that brands that are not too flashy with their bands or packaging, tend to make the most enjoyable cigars. But, that’s just me. According to Abe Flores, founder and owner of PDR Cigars, his factory uses the Entubado method of rolling cigars. This method is a traditional Cuban and complex style of bunching the filler tobaccos, which when composed by expert hands, produces cigars that are flawless in construction. The binder and filler was composed of Nicaraguan tobacco, which for some time now has been producing some of the finest cigars in the world. The cold draw gave me a hint of this stick’s spiciness, plus it validated its excellent construction. Once lit, I could taste the sweetness coming off the maduro wrapper with an underlying spice from the filler. From the first to the last third, the El Trovador maintained an interesting interplay between sweetness and spice. As the cigar progressed, I noticed the wrapper’s veins did not affect the burn. The strength was on the medium side, which is fine by me. Overall, if you’re into cigars that are balanced and have a consistent flavor profile, then I suggest you pick up the PDR El Trovador Maduro and soon you’ll be singing its praises. Picked on 03/15/2019
CAO Amazon Basin 6 * 52
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I have always heard about the famed Brazilian Braganca tobacco that is used in the CAO Amazon Basin cigar. According to the experts, the Braganca leaf is grown in the Amazon jungle, and it is harvested once every three years. This makes it a limited production stick that is not so easy to find, so when I recently ran into one, I snatched it. The Amazon Basin has a dark, rugged Brazilian Habano wrapper that foreshadows its strength. Underneath the wrapper is a Nicaraguan binder that is home to fillers from three different countries: Colombia, Dominican Republic, and the aforementioned Brazilian Braganca leaf. I took a cold draw and didn’t notice anything remarkable. A pre-light sniff did hint of coffee though. Once underway, it looked like I was going to have to file this stick under “good smoke, but nothing to write home about” category. But since I was on a journey of discovery, I decided to go all the way. Into the first third, the coffee became a little more pronounced. The second third was not too impressive, but it did get a little earthy. As the final third approached, the Amazon Basin started to pack a punch that, while not overpowering, made its presence known. In my opinion, this is a strong but medium-bodied stick. The burn and draw was excellent due to this cigar’s muscular construction. Overall, I recommend the CAO Amazon Basin if you’re looking to try the Braganca tobacco. I just wish they made one that exclusively used the Braganca leaf for a filler and not blended with other tobaccos. Picked on 01/23/2019
Oscar Valladares Ciseron Green/Blue 6 * 52
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The Oscar Valladares Ciseron is named after Elmer Ciseron Bautista, a local Honduran artist, well-known for his Cubist Sub-Realist/Post-Cubist Minimalist art. I’m not an art expert, but if I have to draw comparisons, Ciseron’s work reminds of Marc Chagall, an internationally famous Russian-French artist. Oscar Valladares created the Ciseron brand to help promote not only Ciseron’s art, but the work of local Honduran artists as well. Both the boxes and bands feature art by Ciseron that were exclusively commissioned for this cigar line. The Ciseron brand is available in five different lines: Blue, Green, Green/Blue, Purple, and Red. All have the same blend, which consists of a natural Ecuadorian wrapper that surrounds a binder and filler made of Nicaraguan tobaccos. For this review, I chose the Green/Blue. A pre-light sniff offered up a woodsy aroma. When lit, the woodsy aroma became more prominent and stayed through to the end, but it was accented with notes of cocoa and nuts. The Ciseron’s excellent draw and burn is a testament to its superb construction. The Oscar Valladares Ciseron is an excellent cigar that while not too complex makes for a great everyday smoke. Picked on 01/11/2019
Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto  5 * 52
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I have always wanted to try a cigar that has been aged in a whiskey cask. So when I was presented with the opportunity to try the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto, I jumped on it. Named after the famous British Prime Minister and his penchant for staying up late, legend has it that he did his best thinking during the “Late Hours”, this stick sports a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Mexican San Andres binder. The filler is composed of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos, which have been aged for six months in casks that once held single malt whiskey. Yum! A pre-light sniff of the foot offered an appealing aroma of sweetness and pepper. The first third was peppery with a touch of spice. During the second third, the Late Hour’s whiskey flavor started to express itself. In the final third, a combination of floral and nutty flavors presented itself, but without overshadowing the whiskey flavor. Full-bodied and full strength the Late Hour is a great after dinner smoke. I smoked mine shortly after I had consumed a carnivore’s dream-sized New York strip steak that was accompanied with seasoned mash potatoes and roasted asparagus spears. The Late Hour features a flawless construction, but the draw was a little too tight. Will I smoke this stick again? Let’s just say there’s a special place in my humidor for the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto. Picked on 12/31/2018
Flor de Selva No. 15 51/2 * 54
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Maya Selva Cigars’ Flor de Selva No. 15 is a Honduran puro in every sense of the word. It features tobaccos from regions in Honduras that are well-known for making some of the finest cigars in the world. Handmade, the Flor de Selva features a rich-brown Connecticut seed wrapper from Talanga. The wrapper is draped over a Habano Jamastran binder, which contains a specially blended Viso Jamastran and LIgero Azacualpa filler. An inviting hint of spice comes off the wrapper when you give it a pre-light sniff. The cold draw is nice and easy with an earthy, slightly sweet aroma while the foot of the cigar serves up a refreshing cedar scent. Once lit, this medium-strength Connecticut offers subtle spices with hearty cedar notes and a warm leathery taste with just a touch of dried fruit. The Flor de Selva also gives off a salty taste that is quite enjoyable without being overpowering. This torpedo burns true from beginning to end and gives off a smooth medium-gray ash that can only be described as flawless. If you are looking for a great after dinner smoke, the Flor de Selva is one medium-bodied Connecticut that you will enjoy time after time. Picked on 12/10/2018
Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer
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Like most folks, I like the conveniences of modern technology. I like the fact that I can use an app on my smartphone to live stream a football game, order flowers for my wife, and much more. So when I stumbled upon the Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer Sensor Starter Kit, I was very intrigued. For some time now, I have been using the Cigar Scanner app. I like the fact that I can scan my cigars, keep a journal of them, create a virtual humidor, and share them with other cigar lovers. But when I found out that they were releasing the Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer Sensor Starter Kit, I just had to have it. In essence, the kit comes with a hygrometer/thermometer sensor which you put in your humidor, and a Gateway device that connects the sensor to the Internet. It allows you to monitor your humidor's performance from wherever you are. You can adjust the relative humidity and temperature ranges so that the sensor will notify you if there is a sudden change. The set-up was a little tricky, but easy. I'm not a tech head so it took me 15 minutes to set it up. You have the choice to connect either by WiFi or Ethernet. I chose the latter, and maybe that's why it took me longer. Once connected, I was able to pair the sensor with the Cigar Scanner app. Almost instantly, I was able to get an accurate reading of my humidor's relative humidity and temperature. I was surprised because it told me that my old analog hygrometer was off. Way off! By at least 20%! All this time I thought my humidor was at a range between 62% and 72%, when in reality it was at 55%. Thanks to the sensor, I was able to save my precious smokes. The Cigar Scanner app lets me know if my humidor experiences a sudden change in humidity and temperature. It even notifies me if the device goes offline or if the battery is low. Overall, I recommend the Cigar Scanner WiFi Hygrometer and Thermometer Sensor Starter Kit for cigar folks who want protect and keep track of thei Picked on 12/10/2018
La Palina Number 2 Robusto 5 * 52
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I am a traditionalist when it comes to most things. But, every now and then, I like to try something different. It's why I picked up a La Palina Number 2. The dark, maduro wrapper appealed to my traditional side, but when I learned that the wrapper was from Costa Rica, I knew I had to try it. For some time now, Costa Rican tobacco has been making a name for itself in the cigar community. Known for its rich volcanic soil and excellent climate, Costa Rica is an ideal location for growing cigar tobacco. And, since I have never smoked a cigar made of Costa Rican tobacco, the La Palina Number 2 was the ideal choice. Plus, the fact that it was handmade at the famed Plasenica Cigars factory sealed the deal. The cold draw gave me a hint of the spicy experience I was about to embark on. The draw was smooth and effortless from start to finish. For the most, the La Palina Number 2 had a nice even burn throughout, but it did experience a little tunneling halfway. However, I was able to fix it with a little touch up. A peppery flavor introduced itself during the first third. Somewhere into the second third a woodsy aroma started to become pronounced and it carried through into the third. Overall, I'd recommend the La Palina Number 2 to cigar aficionados who want a full strength cigar, and for those who want to try a Costa Rican maduro. Picked on 11/16/2018
Davidoff 702 Aniversario Special R 47/8 * 50
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They say you never forget your first anything. Well, they're right. Recently, I smoked my first Davidoff cigar, and I will always remember it. It was on a warm Friday night at Neptune's Dadeland store during a Davidoff event. The crowd was small and mellow. The place was full of true cigar aficionados. The conversation was light and focused on the cigars. I scanned through the tastefully arranged Davidoff display. For some reason, the Davidoff 702 Aniversario Special R caught my eye. Maybe it was the dark Ecuadorian wrapper and how it sharply contrasted with the elegant white band and its distinct gold lettering. Or maybe I liked the way this robusto felt in my hand: not too long and not too thick, just right. Not sure, but it’s the one I chose. Sliding off the cellophane wrapper, I could tell I was in for a bold treat. The cold draw hinted of the 702 Special R's strength and flavor profile. From the first puff, I could tell this was going to be one spicy stick by the light stinging sensation it left in my throat. A strong woodsy aroma immediately introduced itself and remained constant throughout. Somewhere through the second third, a peppery taste started to become more pronounced but it did not overpower the woodsy flavor. The two flavors seemed to stay constant all the way into the final third. As for the burn, it did get a little uneven in the beginning, but after a little touch up from a torch lighter, it was smooth sailing from then on. Superbly constructed, the 702 Special R had a nice smooth draw, which made it easier to enjoy. Overall, the Davidoff 702 Aniversario Special R is a strong smoke with a consistent flavor and an excellent draw. I recommend it for the cigar enthusiast who is looking for a special occasion cigar, or wants to try a Davidoff for the first time. Picked on 11/01/2018
Nub Nuance Double Roast 354 33/4 * 54
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Recently, I tried a Nub Cafe Macchiato by the Oliva Cigar Company just to satisfy my desire for a flavor-infused cigar. On a Sunday morning after a light breakfast, I smoked the Macchiato robusto while I drank with my morning coffee. As a side note, I like to drink strong, black American coffee, which provided a nice contrast to the Nub’s flavor profile. I held the wrapper to my nose and a warm milk chocolate aroma greeted me which reminded me of the hot chocolate drinks my mom would make on cold winter mornings in New York. The cold draw was nice and easy and gently telegraphed the infused chocolate sweetness. As I got into the smoking experience, I reflected on the Nub Cafe Macchiato’s construction. I liked the hefty 54 ring gauge which made it easy for me to hold onto this flavorful cigar. The short 3 3/4” length makes the Nub Café a great 15 minute smoke, which is just right when you want to enjoy a fine cigar, but short on time. The Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos allowed a perfect draw each and every time. The Nicaraguan binder supported the filler nicely. The light-brown, small-veined Sumatra wrapper gave the Nub Cafe Macchiato a rugged, yet handsome appearance. As for the profile, the milk chocolate flavor was evident throughout without overpowering the subtle notes of spice and wood that came through in the second and third part. A mild-strength cigar, I would recommend the Nub Café Macchiato as a morning smoke with or without coffee. If Macchiato is not your “cup of Joe”, Nub Cafe also offers cappuccino and espresso flavored cigars. Picked on 10/22/2018
Jose

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