The points contest is under way for the month of December. The 35 members with the most points for the month have a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to CI. You can read the details HERE. To view the previous month's contest results see here.
Cigar for the Troops
Hi Folks. I wanted to highlight some fine work by our brotherhood, and in particular, Nathan (nwb). Thanks to Nathan's efforts again this year and the generosity of our members, we will be sending over 1300 cigars to our well deserved troops who sacrifice so much so we can enjoy the freedom we have. These should hit in time for the holidays. Click here for some pics. Thanks Nathan and thanks members for another successful drive!
Nice dark Brazilian wrapper with very little veins, smells rich with cocoa. This cigar has a nice cedar, and spice flavor profile and gives off allot of smoke. The draw is great, and the burn is almost perfect all the way to the nub. I like these as a nice day to day filler cigar as they are a great flavor, burn, and not pricey at all. Burns in just under a hour and has a nice medium strength to it.
A family member heard I was getting into cigars and gave me this Big Dog from a sampler pack he purchased. Had this sitting in the humidor for a while and figured I'd get around to smoking it someday. I've been trying different types of cigars for a bit, looking to expand my tastes and find my personal preference.
So I decided to light this cigar up, get a taste for what a lesser quality stick is like... Well, it was bad. The cigar had a soft, loose feel to it, definitely not rolled as tight as I am accustomed to. There wasn't a strong smell to the cigar either, very bland. After cutting off the end and lighting, it did not get any better. The taste was just not there, not discernible notes or flavors, just a poor tasting tobacco. After spitting out filler crumbling into my mouth for the tenth time I decided to put it out.
I don't want to come off as a total snob, had the construction been better, and the cigar not come apart in my mouth, I probably would have smoked the whole thing and had some opinion on the flavor, but it just wasn't worth bothering with.
This a gorgeous little cigar. Well priced for a 30 minute smoke. The Mexican, maduro wrapper is a little oily, and the seams are tight and invisible. Easy to cut, the cold draw is easy. This is a pretty strong, spicy cigar, and the pepper really gets going later on. The spice is joined by earthy, tobacco flavors and tastes of leather and wood. The burn is perfect with an ash that holds nicely. Great little smoke!
Purchased this on the recommendation of the cigar ship owner. He suggested we purchase more as if we did like them, they would not last long. As this was a new shop for us (We just started smoking cigars last month), we assumed it was a sales push.
Best cigar I have ever smoked. Spicy at first, almost overwhelming. After the first inch it became a dream cigar. We went back the very next day to purchase more assuming there would be more (they had 3 boxes) and all they had was one left. As we smoke together we decided 1 would not do it and did not purchase it.
A few strong smells coming off of the Skull and Bones. Cedar, heavy fermented tobacco and white pepper. Construction:
This Viaje release from 2012 measures 4 1/2” long with a 52 ring gauge which falls under the short robusto vitola. The cigar is flawless and the wrapper is a very dark brown.
Flavor: First Third
My initial impressions are as if I bit into a sweet jalapeno pepper; tons of white pepper with a sweet after taste. Each draw produces a deep complex flavor and loads of smoke. As I start to settle into the first third I started to pick up some oaky undertones and what I would describe as toasted wheat. This cigar already packs a nicotine punch even in the first third. There’s a hint of earth at the end of each draw but it almost immediately dissipates. Your mouth and tongue are absolutely coated with flavor here.
As the first third starts to wind down I recognize that even though the vitola is small, the strength of this cigar is not to be underestimated. Middle Third
I found that the pepper, which was quite dominant in the initial third, starts to fade rapidly here. There’s a strong leather after taste that coats your mouth after a draw. The leather isn’t acrid or unpleasant but the taste is quite strong.
At approximately the mid-point there’s some spices detectable post-draw. Last Third
The leather dissipates here like the pepper did from the first to the second third. The flavor profile is very similar to the first third but muted in intensity. As I approach the end it becomes quite earthy and quietly goes out. Burn/Draw:
The burn on this was great and the draw had no issues. Generous amounts of smoke production with each draw. Total smoking time was approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes, which is impressive for a short robusto.
Unfortunately the Viaje Skull and Bones MOAB was available only in limited quantities last year, so the likelihood of obtaining one is rather low. At the time of release singles were going for about $10, with boxes of 25 going for around $220. The price is a bit steep given the vitola, but not excessively so when you consider the super limited quantities produced. I usually try to obtain a single or two before committing to a purchase of something very limited.
It’s always great when you have a chance to try something out of the ordinary, especially if that particular cigar was a part of a rare release. The only down side is that you’ll really enjoy it and be considerably past the point where you could still purchase them. The Viaje Skull and Bones MOAB is a full flavored, full strength powerhouse packed into a short vitola. Unfortunately I’m late to the party on the 2013 release as Viaje targeted February 2013 this year for the Big Ivan, Fat Man and Little Boy series. I was fortunate enough to snap up a Fat Man from Casa de Montecristo’s aging room, while in Chicago for the 2013 Chicago Tweetup. I’m looking forward to reviewing this down the road.
A combination of leather, barnyard and hay. Careful examination kept returning the same flavor profiles.
The Rocky Patel Nording is a Robusto vitola measuring 5.5” by 52 ring gauge. It has a pig tail cap which is interesting. The wrapper is a dark brown with mottled sections that are darker. No imperfections anywhere to be seen. The band is a bright silver and is quite striking.
The first few draws is lots of nut flavors. There’s some sweetness present post draw. I pick up some slight pepper only in the retrohale. 10 minutes in and I get some leather as an after taste.
This is fairly in the middle of the road for complexity but enjoyable through the entire first third. Middle
The nut flavors that were present in the first third are more pronounced and complex in the second third. The leather that was present as an after taste also becomes stronger and more present here. The pepper that I picked up just on the retrohale starts to push through on the flavor map at the halfway mark.
As the middle third winds down I pick up some floral notes. Last
The primary flavors in the final third are earth and the nuttiness that has been present all throughout. The leather from the first and second thirds is barely perceptible here.
A nice finish in the final third with no bitterness. I’m easily able to smoke this down to the nub. Burn/Draw:
No burn issues to speak of here. The draw hit the sweet spot. The ash held quite well throughout the review. Total smoking time was just under the 1 hour and 50 minute mark. Value:
Extremely good value here, with singles available in the $4.50 range. 5 packs range pretty significantly from $16 – $32. Boxes of 20 are readily available for $123 but you can find bundles marked down at various online retails for as low as $70.
Rocky Patel tends to have a lot of products on the market, and as a reviewer it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate one product from another. The Rocky Patel Nording Robusto is a good cigar with a price that puts it at a top level of value. If you’re looking for a medium bodied cigar with some flavors that should be approachable even for the beginner cigar smoker, these are going to land into the must buy category for you.
An interesting nose here comprised of some floral notes and saddle leather. I can’t say I’ve ever remotely picked up that combination before. Construction:
This Ideology by 262 Cigars measures 5.5” x 42 ring gauge in the Corona vitola. The wrapper is a pleasant brown color, and the construction is flawless.
The first few draws bring nuts and loads of cedar with some pepper undertones. Delightful start here. There’s a savory charred meat after taste that coats the inside of my mouth. I can definitely detect stronger pepper on the retro-hale. Middle
No discernible flavor profile changes from the first to the second third. I’m really enjoying the flavor profile I find it very well balanced. Last
The flavor intensity starts to wane across the board as I move into the final third. Overall profile has remained consistent throughout the entire smoking experience. Burn/Draw:
An absolutely razor sharp burn here. The draw is excellent, utilizing a v-cut here, and total smoking time was almost exactly 45 minutes. Value:
The pricing on these is quite reasonable. Singles are around the $7 mark. You can snag a 5-pack for $32. Ideology in the Corona size are 20 to a box for around $125. Final Word:
The Ideology by 262 Cigars is a great smoke. The strength is medium bodied so it won’t blow out most aficionados. The flavor profile is consistent and no one flavor dominates, with a consistent cigar experience from start to finish. I’m going to have to add these to my buy list the next time I’m travelling into the US.
Sweet hay and cedar here. I wasn’t able to pick up much else but I was eager to light up. Construction:
Flor de Las Antillas by My Father Cigars was in the Robusto vitola, measuring 5” long with a 50 ring gauge. Flawless construction, sporting a triple cap. These cigars are box-pressed with flat veins running throughout the wrapper. The wrapper on this is is a sun-grown Ecuadorian Habano Criollo harvested from Don Pepin Garcia’s farm in Namanji, Esteli, Nicaragua. The cigar blend itself was created by Jaime Garcia, son of Don Pepin Garcia. The name of the cigar, ‘Flor de Las Antillas’ is Spanish for Flower of the Antilles. This is also a homage to Cuba the largest island in the Greater Antilles island chain.
My initial taste impressions are white pepper. There’s some dried wood coming through after a few draws, mostly what I would describe as oak and cedar. The rest of the first third is largely unchanged until the end
As the cigar begins to transition to the second third there is some light earthiness coming through. Middle
The earth that was light in the initial third is the dominant flavor here. The earth gives way to some sweetness after approximately 5 minutes. At the halfway mark some pepper breaks through and the earth picks up in intensity again.
I found that the flavors waxed and waned throughout the second third, with no one set of flavors settling in. Last
The earthiness continues to build in strength into the last third. There is some charred nut flavors on the post-draw. As I move closer to the end it becomes somewhat acrid and I let it go out. Burn/Draw:
Fairly even burn here and a perfect draw. I would expect nothing less from a cigar out of the My Father factories. Total smoking time was almost exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes. Value:
The Flor de Las Antillas Robustos are quite affordable. Singles range between $6 – $7. 5-packs are between $31 – $35. You can also pick these up in a 20 count box around $120. Final Word:
This offering by My Father Cigars, although fairly dominant in earthy notes, was quite enjoyable for me. It’s more thank likely a result of the Flor de las Antillas coming out of Esteli, Nicaragua which is usually an easy sell for me. These are towards the more full bodied range for strength, and are quite affordable for all aficionados. If you enjoy other My Father offerings, or are looking to try something new, you can’t go around picking up a few of these to try for yourself.
When you smell a Cuban cigar, you’ll know it. A combination of dried hay and cedar with that uniquely Cuban rich tobacco scent.
The H. Upmann Edición 2009 Limitada Magnum 48 is a short robusto vitola, measuring 4 1/3” by 48 ring gauge. With 4 years of age on it, this cigar is showing no signs of construction issues. Habanos SA has limited edition releases every year, and this was a part of their 2009 release.
Some light pepper with a sweet after taste. A few minutes of smoking and I start to pick up hints of dry cedar. Once the cigar settles in at the 10 minute mark, the sweetness picks up in intensity.
A very enjoyable first third. Middle
The second third is quite a bit different than the first third. Pepper, spices and some nutty flavors mixed in. Not a lot of flavor changes for the rest of this third. I found it to be quite balanced throughout. Last
The final third is very similar in profile to the middle. Still a very balanced and smooth smoking experience. Burn/Draw:
Burn and draw on Cuban cigars is always a mixed bag. You can get a great batch and you can also get a batch that gives you nothing but trouble. I’m happy to report that with a punch the draw was good, leaning towards the open end. I had no burn issues, as you can see by the pictures, the burn line was straight and the ash held well. I didn’t have to touch the cigar up through the review. Total smoking time was a leisurely 1 hour and 5 minutes. Value:
The value here is going to be subjective as the H. Upmann Edición 2009 Limitada Magnum 48s don’t come cheap. Singles will be around the $14 mark, if you can still find them. Buying a box of 25 is your best value, as the boxes can be had for around $245. Final Word:
I’m impressed by the flavor complexity here. It’s a fantastically balanced cigar from start to finish. I think next time I’ll pair this with a sherry finish scotch or a strong, black coffee. If you’re in the market for a quicker smoking experience that doesn’t short change you on flavor complexity, the H. Upmann 2009 Magnum 48s are the way to go.
Tons of cedar here. The fermented tobacco immediately takes my mind back to our tour of the fermenting warehouse in Esteli, Nicaragua on the Cigar Safari.
The Liga Privada Único Serie Papas Fritas is a petite corona vitola measuring 4.5” by 44 ring gauge. The cap on this has a pig tail which is present on only a few of the Único Serie. The other departure from other cigars in this line is that the band is on the foot rather than up at the cap. The wrapper is a mottled dark black color.
The design intention behind the Papas Fritas was to provide a Único Serie product at a more approachable price point with greater production levels. As many people are aware, it’s very challenging to get your hands on cigars from this line as they are snapped up almost immediately.
NIcholas Melillo from Drew Estate, also behind the Único Serie Dirty Rat line, came up with this mixed filler blend for Steve Saka. Nicholas is also the person behind the Único Serie Dirty Rat line. The Papas Fritas is made of Grade 1 tobacco trimmings, they are hand sorted back into their original leaf variety and thickness, hand cut for uniform sizing, and then blended. They use a medium tobacco pieces in the head to make sure you don’t get little bits of tobacco in your mouth.
To simply call them a short filler or sandwich cigar is a dismissive of how they are created.
The name ‘Papas Fritas’ was inspired by Steve Saka’s favorite food, French fries (he self proclaimed that he eats more French fries than any man on the planet). Flavor: First Third
Sweet tobacco, coffee and some milk chocolate. A really interesting start to the first third. Out of nowhere the flavor takes a sharp turn and the flavor profile becomes quite earthy and woody.
At the 10 minute mark, the earthy transitions to be more of a loamy earth flavor. Middle Third
The profile in the second third is largely comprised of earth with some woody notes post-draw.
As the middle third closes out there’s some bitter loam flavors that appear. Last Third
The loam drops off quite rapidly as the Papas Fritas moves into the final third. The flavor map for the last third is largely nutty with some cedar tones.
The burn on these was very straight from start to finish. I used a guillotine on this and the draw was exactly where it should be. As with all the Liga Privada line, this cigar produces an astronomical amount of smoke. Total smoking time was just under the 50 minute mark.
The Liga Privada Único Serie Papas Fritas was created with value in mind. This petite corona is available as singles for around $6. They come in the tins of 4 for $26. You can also buy boxes of 28 tins for approximately $180. This is less than half the typical cost of any cigar from the regular Único line which is affordable for any aficionado out there.
If the rest of the cigar followed a similar flavor map as the first third, I think I would pull the trigger on a box of tins. I never found the flavors to settle down, they drifted all over the map. For me the first third really stood out, and the middle and last thirds reminded me more of the Liga Privada No. 9 blend. If you’re a big fan of the No. 9 blend then the flavor profile here might be exactly what you enjoy.
This is a very solid short smoke, but if you’re expecting the flavor complexity of some of the more expensive Único Serie releases you will be a bit disappointed. If you approach it from the perspective of Saka and think of them as the French fries of cigars, then picking some of these up should be a no brainer.
This particular Arturo Fuente cigar has notes of barnyard and sweet hay. Even with more careful examination I wasn’t able to pick up anything else. Construction:
Arturo Fuente Casa Fuente Belicos Finos has an orange ribbon at the foot, which is how you can distinguish different lines of Fuente cigars. There are some water spots present on the wrapper, but I suspect they came some time after the original purchase. This particular cigar is a Belicos Finos vitola measuring 5 5/8” by 52 ring gauge.
What makes this cigar quite unique is that you can only purchase the Casa Fuente line from the Casa Fuente Store located at in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas, Nevada. Knowing that this cigar can only be picked up in one locale, just makes this an even more unique and generous gift for Christmas.
Flavor: First Third
The initial third starts off with some sweet hay, and the sweetness lingers post-draw with some grassy notes. The flavors are largely dominated with sweet hay and grass until the halfway point where some rich nutty flavors mix in. Middle Third
The flavors start to expand for the middle third. There’s some light leather post-draw, but primarily still sweet hay and grass. At the midway point some earthy notes start to creep into the flavor profile.
As the middle closes out the earth falls in strength. Last Third
Quite earthy in the last third, but not overpowering. At one point I pick up some subtle floral notes breaking through. Burn/Draw:
Even with a small v-cut the draw is excellent. The burn is also excellent and the ash holds on extremely well. Total smoking time was just over 1 hour 30 minutes. Value:
The value here is going to be highly subjective. The Casa Fuente Belicos Finos are limited to only one B&M, and that location is considered widely to be part of the ‘Vegas experience’. As such you can expect to pay about $23 for a single or about $575 for a box of 25. Is it priced at a premium? Yes, but given the rarity of these sticks I would personally pick some singles up if I was in the neighborhood. Final Word:
The Arturo Fuente Casa Fuente Belicos Finos is a highly enjoyable cigar from start to finish. The flavor profile is balanced throughout the entire smoking experience and had me enjoying this right down to my finger tips. While the price is definitely into the super premium category, it’s hard to argue the quality and the fact that you’re taking part in a special experience at the Casa Fuente Store.
The nose on this was rather simple. Barnyard and light hay was all I could detect. Construction:
As per the namesake, the Alec Bradley Connecticut Nano is quite small in a corona vitola, coming in at 4 1/4” in length and 46 ring gauge. The Nano is fairly new to the market, first making an appearance at the 2012 IPCPR event.
Flavor: First Third
Nuts and some pepper on my tongue after the draw. I’d describe the pepper as a light white pepper. A few minutes in and I’m getting some chocolate at the end of an extended draw.
The first is an interesting contrast of light flavors with some pepper. Middle Third
Quite nutty going into the second third with some grassy notes on the post-draw.
Largely grassy and earthy as the middle third winds down. Last Third
Grassy notes with some light earth for the entire final third.
It’s been my experience that Alec Bradley cigars are always extremely well constructed and rolled. This Connecticut Nano is no different with a very straight burn from start to finish. Draw profile is in the sweet spot. Total smoking time was approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes. Value:
The Connecticut Nano comes in at a reasonably affordable price of around $5 – $6 a single. 5 packs average around $28. You can also pick up a box of these for around $112. Pricing here is a good value if you’re in the market for a quick smoke at the lighter end of the medium strength scale.
The Alec Bradley Connecticut Nano is too light for my tastes but is a well constructed cigar that delivers tightly balanced flavors from start to finish. If you’re into lighter strength cigars, or enjoy the flavor profile listed here, this is a great choice for a relatively quick cigar that won’t break the bank.
Cedar, barnyard and hints of pepper combine for an intriguing nose here. Construction:
This Ashton Estate Sun Grown ESG #21 Year Salute comes in the Robusto vitola measuring 5 1/4” by 52 ring gauge. There is a flat vein running the length of the wrapper. There is some damage near the cap and foot, unfortunately as a result of a drop while migrating from my old humidor to my new Remington cabinet.
This cigar was created by Robert Levin and Carlos Fuente Jr. as an anniversary cigar to celebrate 20 years of success for Ashton. This Ashton Estate Sun Grown uses a unique Dominican wrapper, grown on the Chateau de la Fuente farm in the Dominican Republic, that has never been used on any other line of cigar. There were 5 lines created in total, 20 through 24 year salutes in Churchill (2006), Robusto (2007), Torpedo (2008), Toro (2009) and a double-tapered Perfecto for 2013.
Flavor: First Third
Chocolate with a creamy mouthfeel post-draw. There is some pepper present, and the strength doesn’t hit on the initial draw but a minute afterwards. I would describe the initial pepper strength as light and the lingering strength to be medium.
There are some dry earthy flavors coming through about 10 minutes in, but they are not very intense. Middle Third
Some fairly medium bodied earth and wet leather going into the second third. I was really enjoying the first third, but the flavor profile in the second is not really to my liking. The leather drops off in intensity at the mid point, but the earth remains unchanged. Last Third
Very light spice in the final third. The leather that fell off in intensity moves into the medium-full level of strength for the last third. Burn/Draw:
The burn was nice and even from start to finish. The Ashton ESG was cut with a guillotine cutter and the draw was slightly open. Total smoking time was approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Value:
The Ashton Estate Sun Grown ESG #21 Year Salute Robusto, like the others from this line, are produced in limited quantities. As a result cost is into the high end of the premium cigar end. Singles of these are around $17.50. Boxes of 25 are around $427. These are definitely priced out of the market for a lot of aficionados but may appeal to those attracted to limited release cigars. Final Word:
The Ashton ESG had me eager to light up after nosing it. The first third was very enjoyable, but the second and final thirds were not what I typically enjoy. If you enjoy a flavor profile in the medium to medium-full strength of earth and leather, this would be an excellent, albeit pricey, choice for you. I would qualify these into the category of celebratory cigars. After researching the Ashton Estate Sun Grown ESG Year Salute line I’m curious to try out the other years to compare to the #21 Year Salute.
The cigar reminds me of the fermenting barns in Nicaragua, although with significantly reduced strength and intensity. There’s nothing else here I’m able to pick up. Construction:
This Ramón Bueso Genesis The Project was reviewed in the Robusto vitola, measuring 5” by 50 ring gauge. Sporting a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, a Jamastran binder and Nicaraguan filler. The line is named after Ramón Bueso, the owner of the company, who has been in the industry over 40 years.
Flavor: First Third
There’s light pepper on detectable at the start of the draw and dissipates quickly afterwards. The body here is quite light as the flavors do not overpower or linger in the mouth post-draw. There is also some light nutty flavors present and just the faintest hint of coffee.
About 10 minutes in there’s some sweetness that comes through at the end of the draw and tends to linger. The sweetness is balanced in intensity.
The first third is interesting because the flavors start out quite simple and then build to greater complexity as the first third winds down. Middle Third
The sweetness has dissipated by the time the middle third begins. There are some light nut flavors that pick up in intensity and start to linger in the mouth. Last Third
The flavor profile changes to include some earthy tones. The complexity of the flavors has dropped significantly from the first and middle third for a nice light finish. Burn/Draw:
No issues with the burn, some occasional touchups relating to a slightly windy smoking environment. Draw was in the sweet spot, using a guillotine cutter. Total smoking time was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Value:
The Genesis The Project Robusto is only available through Cigar.com or CigarsInternational.com. This can be picked up for $7 single, $26.50 for a 5 pack or box of 20 for $79.95. For a boutique cigar this is a very affordable price point. Final Word:
Ramón Bueso Genesis The Project Robusto was a well constructed cigar that delivered on balanced flavors. I enjoyed it, but not enough to smoke one of these on a regular basis. I typically go for something that has more flavor complexity or more intensity. With that said, the price point is extremely approachable for all aficionados to try out for themselves.
The nose on this Brick House is really engaging. Barnyard, cedar, coffee and vanilla combine to leave you eager to light up.
This Brick House Mighty Mighty Maduro was reviewed in the Gordo size, measuring 6 1/4” x 60 ring gauge. It has a very large but nicely designed gold, black and red wrapper. There is a second band indicating that this is from their Maduro line. Although the blend remains the same as the rest of the Brick House line, the wrapper is a Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro.
Originally released by J.C. Newman in 2012 in response to demand for a Brick House sporting a Maduro wrapper.
Flavor: First Third
Pepper right off the start. There’s some sweetness on the post draw. The pepper drops off as the first third establishes itself and the sweetness builds into a complex vanilla flavor. There is some earthy aftertaste at about the 8 minute mark. The earth notes coat the tongue and mutes the sweetness somewhat. Middle Third
The earth present in the first third is much stronger here in the second third. The sweetness is still present but the strength is dialed back. A lot of the complex flavors present in the first third fall off here. Last Third
Still earthy going into the final third. The sweetness is almost non-existent by this point. Burn/Draw:
A nice even burn that held the ash tightly. The draw is exactly where it should be. Value:
Value for days here as a single in the Gordo vitola can be picked up for as low as $5.50. Grab a 5 pack for $28, or a box of 25 for around $135. A sub $6 price on these makes them an extremely attractive buy.
This Brick House Mighty Mighty Maduro Gordo is a solid mid level cigar. It’s not overly complex, but at the same time it has no flavors that would offend the palate. I would mark this down as an easy daily smoke or something you’d be happy to share with one of your smoking buddies. The price point these are an absolute steal considering the flavors that they bring to the table. I need to add a reminder to pick up a box of these the next time my travels take me to the US.