Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No.4 Wednesday, Oct 24 2007 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican Republic
Size: Mini Belicoso 5 1/8x 43 ring

The Fuente family makes some of the most popular cigars in the US. The Opus X and Hemingway lines seem to get the most notoriety in this part of the country, but right up there with them is the premium Don Carlos line of Cameroon wrapped cigars. The Don Carlos is a supurbly constructed refined cigar that proudly bears the name of Don Carlos Fuente Sr. himself. The Don Carlos can be had in various vitolas, seven of which are the most common. The #2, #3, #4, Robusto, Double Robusto, Belicoso, and Presidente. I have seen pictures of a Lancero but have never seen one in person. I don’t know the story behind the Lancero but can only assume it was some kind of special run that may or may not have ever been publicly available. The Fuente’s seem to have a lot of special run, never released cigars floating around out there. You often hear stories of them much like you hear stories of Big Foot and Lochness sightings.

But I digress. Today I am smoking the Don Carlos No.4 courtesy of my friends at CigarsDirect.com. There is a great selection of hard to find smokes over there so please click on over and look around.

The Don Carlos No.4 is a handsome looking Mini Belicoso in an toothy, brown Cameroon wrapper that shimmers with an oily sheen. The Mini Belicoso is unique. The cigar is the size of a Petite Corona but with the tapered bullet head of a belicoso. The wrapper tastes sweet on the lips and the draw seems to be about perfect with just the right amount of resistance. Right off the bat it delivers a nice strong abundance of Cameroon sweet spice. This is one of the smoothest and most refined Cameroons I’ve smoked (true of Don Carlos in general). I am a lover of Cameroon wrapped cigars so I really enjoyed this. The flavor was pretty consistent the whole way. This size is a little stronger and more robust than the larger vitolas in this line. There is a little pepper in the background and the finish is surprisingly light and pleasant. The construction is impeccable and the burn is perfect. Given the small, short format of this cigar, the lack of complexity really isn’t a problem. It is the perfect smoke if you are looking to get a lot straight forward, classic Cameroon flavor.

Get yours at CigarsDirect .com: Arturo Fuente Don Carlos

Rating – B+

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House fails to overturn SCHIP Veto Thursday, Oct 18 2007 

The legislation that would have resulted in a huge tax increase on cigar, and that was vetoed by President Bush failed to get the necessary votes need to overturn the veto today.  Here is a link to the story on MSNBC.

House fails to override Bush child health veto

Now the cigar tax was only one small part of a great many things that are wrong with the proposed SCHIP bill, but this isn’t a politics site so I’ll not get into that here.  However,  it is important that cigar lovers and cigar manufacturers realize that this was just the first failed attempt at over taxing cigars and the more attempts will be made in the future so the industry needs to stay vigilant in delivering its message about the devastating impact such a disproportionate tax increase will have on the industry and the countries that rely on it.

Fonseca No. 1 Tuesday, Oct 16 2007 

Country: Cuba
Box Date: September 2003
Size: Cazadores 63/8x44 ring

Fonseca is an under appreciated brand in my opinion. You don’t find too many people talking about it and there are plenty who haven’t even heard of it. I have found it to be a sort of hidden gem. Milder than most Cuban cigars it is still full of refined, complex flavors and they are a joy to smoke. The hallmark of the Fonseca is the white tissue paper wrapper that graces every stick in the marca, and the bold portrait of Francisco E. Fonseca that adorns each box.

The Cazadores is one of my most favorite vitolas. The No.1 sports a beautiful creamy brown wrapper covered in very fine veins and a handsome triple cap. The cap clipped off nicely and revealed the tell tale Cuban dimple underneath. This cigar starts off like a champ. Right off the bat it delivers smooth flavors of nuts and cream with a subtle saltiness. It is absolutely sublime. It produces thick clouds of creamy white smoke and rich almost nutty aroma. The finish lingers pleasantly with a salty spiciness that is unlike any other cigar I’ve smoked. As the smoke progresses the flavors begin to change. The predominate flavor is coffee and cream with a faint sweetness and occasional floral undertones. The construction on these cigars is flawless. With more than half the box smoked, I have never had a single issue of any kind with these cigars. The burn is razor sharp and the ash is perfectly formed and holds firm. I smoke these to the nub and almost burned my fingers as I finished this one up. It pained me more than the heat to put this cigar down.

Rating – A+

Ashton VSG Sorcerer Thursday, Oct 11 2007 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown
Filler: Dominican
Size: Double Corona 7.0″x49 ring

Today I am smoking a top-shelf, hard to find cigar. This review is brought to us courtesy of CigarsDirect.com. This is the inaugural CigarsDirect review, so we are kicking this thing off right.

Ashton Cigars was created in 1985 by Robert Levin. Levin teamed up with the Fuentes taking advantage of their manufacturing experience to help him create his cigars. Ashton’s popularity was originally built on its mild, yet flavorful Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars. The popularity of the Ashton brand would explode with the introduction of a powerful full bodied cigar, the Virgin Sun Grown (VSG). In November of 1999 Ashton Cigars unveiled the VSG, the most powerful and full bodied cigar in the Ashton catalog. The VSG sports an Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper. Apparently the VSG, before it was called VSG, was going to have a Chateau de la Fuente wrapper of Opus X fame(Keepers of the Flame, Oct. 1, 2006). But the rarity of the wrapper and the popularity of the Opus killed that plan. That’s how The VSG ended up with the Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper. A few of the VSG vitolas have pretty standard names like Belicoso and Robusto, but others have been given more mystical names like Tres Mystique, Spellbound, and Sorcerer. Not sure why that is and unfortunately I was unable to find any info on it.

The VSG Sorcerer is a 7.0″x 49 ring Double Corona. It is wrapper in a beautiful sungrown wrapper with tiny veins throughout, sporting an expertly applied cap and a rich tobacco aroma. The cap clipped nicely with my Palio and the foot took a light perfectly. This cigar packs all the power it is hyped to have but even with that power it is surprisingly smooth. The flavors are full bodied yet refined. I’ve heard the VSG referred to as “The Velvet Hammer” and the name fits. It starts off very rich and smooth with a slightly sweet spice. A fellow BOTL once referred to this flavor as a “sungrown twang”. The burn is razor sharp and the ash is well formed but is a little loose and doesn’t hold more than an inch or so. It has a long almost sage like finish that is quite unique and it produces plenty of thick, creamy, off-white smoke. As the smoke progresses the twang lessened and it developed strong notes of earth and leather with an almost floral undertone. I am very impressed with the smooth, refined nature of the flavors given how full and and powerful the cigar is. It packs quite a punch without any harshness or muted flavors you sometime get with strong powerful cigars. In the last third the VSG really picks up with lots of spice and leather with spice on the finish. I smoked it to the nub.

A double corona is a long smoke that needs to be above par to be enjoyable otherwise you inevitably get bored with it before you finish it. No chance of boredom here. The VSG Sorcerer is a robust, complex smoke that holds your attention for the entire hour plus it takes to smoke it. It is definitely not a cigar for beginners as the length and power may be too much for someone not used to smoking full bodied cigars. For an experienced cigar smoker it is a real treat and is so good you will want to smoke one more often than just on the special occasions despite it’s price tag. You can get the VSG Sorcerer and other VSG’s at CigarsDirect.

Link: Ashton VSG @ CigarsDirect.com.

Rating – A

Review Index Thursday, Oct 4 2007 

I decided I had enough reviews up now that it was worth putting together an index of them.  There is a link for the Cigar Review Index on the sidebar to the left.

On a side note it was interesting to see how my writing has evolved and how I go about reviewing the cigars has changed.  When I started I was just writing fairly general impressions much like I did in my pen and paper journal that this blog replaced.  As time went on I started to get more detailed and my entires started to look more like actual reviews.  I’m still just a regular Joe giving a regular Joe’s take on cigars, and I am by no means a great (or even good) writer but I have really enjoyed keeping up this blog.  I hope I can continue to improve my writing and my reviews to hopefully make them even more useful to those looking to try something new.  Another aspect of putting together this index is seeing how my tastes and opinions have changed as my palate developed and I became a more experienced cigar smoker.  Some of my earlier entries are difficult for me to read now.  Some of them make me cringe as I read them.

Announcing My New Featured Retailer! Monday, Oct 1 2007 


I want to announce a new relationship here at Matt’s Cigar Journal. I now have a Featured Retailer whom I will be working with to bring you reviews of some really great, and sometimes hard to find Top Shelf Cigars. Over in the side bar to the left you will now see the logo for CigarsDirect.com. Each month I will do two cigar reviews that will be brought to you by CigarsDirect.com. Below their logo you will see what the upcoming reviews will be for the next two months. These reviews will be in addition to any other reviews I may choose to do on my own. The Upcoming Reviews section on the sidebar will link you to CigarsDirect.com’s page for that specific cigar and there will be a similar link in each review when it is posted. CigarsDirect.com is run by Billy Ferriolo. Billy and the crew at CigarsDirect put a great deal of importance on customer service and make sure everyone of their customers is well taken care of. They have an excellent selection of top shelf and often hard to find cigars so I encourage everyone to click on over to their site and take a look. You just might discover a good source for one of your elusive favorites over there. I am excited about this new relationship and hope that it can benefit all parties including my readers.

We are going to kick things off in a stellar way this October with a review of the Ashton VSG Sorcerer so be sure to check back soon.

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