I dream of the day… Friday, Feb 29 2008 

… that I have one of these in my grubby little hands. This is a preliminary rendering of the ceramic jar that will be packed full of Tatuaje Black Label cigars.

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Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic Thursday, Feb 21 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 7.0″x 48 ring

The Hemingway line of cigars from the Fuente Family has a reputation of excellence. Along with that success, it also carries a reputation of being hard to find. Not so. Finding them is as easy as pointing your web browser at CigarsDirect.com. That is where this long and lovely Cameroon wrapped stogie comes to me from. CigarsDirect.com has an impressive selection of Hemingways so if you have been in search of a source, now you have one.

I provided a bit of background on the Hemingway cigars in my review of the Best Seller so rather than rehash all of that here I will just dive right into this cigar. In my experience, the Classic seems to be the easiest to find of all the Hemingway vitolas. Classic is a good label for this smoke too. That is how I’d describe it. It’s a classic cigar experience, medium bodied and easy smoking. It has a classic tobacco flavor wrapped in a classic Cameroon sweet spice. It is a very enjoyable smoke if a bit one dimensional. It doesn’t do a whole lot to excite the palate but when you are finished with it you find yourself saying “That was a damn fine smoke.” There is a warmness to the flavors that lends this cigar to a chilly day. Construction wise it is your typical Fuente product, very well made with a good draw. The cigar feels a little light for its size making you wonder if it’s under filled, but there are no soft spots on the cigar to speak of. The wrapper is a very toothy and very rough looking. It looks like you could use it to sand a piece of balsa wood. The burn would go a little crooked once and a while but it always managed to correct itself. If you find yourself in the mood to just drink in an abundance of classic Cameroon flavor, this is a stick you should consider reaching for.

Get yours at CigarsDirect .com: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic

Rating – B

A Must Read for any Cigar Fan Monday, Feb 18 2008 

Dan of New Havana Cigars details on his blog a trip he took to Esteli with Pete Johnson. He tells a great story in wonderful detail of his meeting Pepin and Jamie Garcia, and of all the great stuff he saw, smoked, and experienced. There is some good insider info in there about some new smokes on the way from those guys.

New Havana Cigars in Esteli

One Year Anniversary at WordPress!!! Monday, Feb 18 2008 

It was one year ago today that I moved my humble little blog over to WordPress. I have to say I have been extremely satisfied with the decision. WordPress is an excellent content management system and I think my blog is much better now than it ever could have been before the move. Thank you very much WordPress, for the wonderful home you provide for my little blog.

Don Francisco Bohemian Knot Wednesday, Feb 13 2008 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Corojo
Binder: Capote
Filler: Ligero Dominicano, Seco Dominicano, Piloto Cubano
Size: 5.25″ x 52 ring

The Don Francisco Bohemian Knot is a rustic looking Corojo that is part of a very diverse line of cigars made for Don Francisco Cigars in East Brunswick New Jersey. When you walk into the shop the first thing you see is the rolling tables where the Don Francisco cigars are made. There is an amazing selection of cigars there and there is a huge lounge in the back of the store where customers are invited to sit and relax while they enjoy their favorite smoke. It is everything I’d want in a cigar shop. I was visiting family in New Jersey this past Thanksgiving and took the opportunity to stop in the shop. I learned about Don Francisco’s at the HerfHut cigar forum where the owner Lew, is an esteemed member and moderator. While I was there I looked through a case packed full of delicious looking cigars all bearing the gold trimmed red band of the Don Francisco brand. It was almost too hard to choose. I was hoping to find some of the Culebras I saw pictures of over on HerfHut but alas there were none, but another cigar practically jumped out of the case at me. It’s distinctive appearance making it a must buy. The Bohemian Knot.

The Don Francisco Bohemian Knot has a pig tailed head and unfinished foot. The wrapper is a very oily Corojo with a mottled brown coloring. The whole effect of the pig tail, unfinished foot and spotted wrapper gives the cigar a very rustic almost tribal appearance. The cigars appearance makes me envision this cigar as the stick of choice for Dominican Witch Doctors. Below are some closeups of the head and foot on this uniquely wrapped stogie. Unfortunately my sub par camera is not only bad at taking closeups, the flash evens out the color of the wrapper making the pictures poor representations of the actual appearance of the cigar. I wish they came out better so you could see the very cool variations in color that give the wrapper a mottled look. I know that most of the time cigar makers go to great lengths to select wrapper leaves with very even and consistent coloring, but in this case the mottled look works very well for this cigar. I love the look of this cigar and wish my pictures did it more justice. You can click any of the pictures in this review for an enlarged view.

Closeup of the Pig Tailed Head

Closeup of the Unfinished Foot

Lighting an cigar with an unfinished foot is a bit of a different exercise than with your typical open foot cigar. You almost have to puff on it during the light to work past the wrapper that closes it off. Doing so creates a bit of harshness at first but it goes away very quickly. I probably just need to work on my technique with these a bit to resolve that. This is not what I’d call a typical corojo. It lacks some of the spice and power that you typically get with this kind of wrapper. However, what you do get from it is surprisingly good. It is very smooth and delivers a very decadent tobacco flavor and it has a a very woodsy core. It has a long pleasant finish with subtle notes of nuts. I also notice that it has a slightly bitter bite on the tip of my tongue that I found unique and enjoyable. The flavors are very consistent throughout the smoke never changing much. It did start to develop a bit of leather near the midway point that faded away again very quickly. It is a very good medium bodied smoke in both taste and power. I think the Bohemian Knot is a very accessible cigar for all kinds of smokers. It has plenty to offer the an experienced smoker who is looking for an easy going smoke that will hold their attention yet a person newer to cigars would find it very enjoyable and not at all over powering. It is one of the smoothest corojos I have ever smoked. The only negative thing I can say about this cigar is that the ash seemed very loose and flaky and the burn had a habit of going crooked several times, but it wasn’t so bad as to detract from the experience. As house brands go the Don Francisco Bohemian Knot is an excellent cigar. If you ever find yourself in East Brunswick, New Jersey be sure to stop in at Don Francisco Cigars and check out his excellent store and pick yourself up some of these cigars.

Rating – B+

For My Fellow Tatuaje/Pete Johnson Fans Tuesday, Feb 12 2008 

If you haven’t seen this video yet you should check it out.  It is a cool little video with Pete Johnson as he explains the what’s and why’s of Tatuaje Cigars.  It is nice and short and to the point.  A very well done and watchable video.

Tatuaje owner and creator Pete Johnson

Enjoy!

Purchase: Tatuaje Blacks Sunday, Feb 10 2008 

Update[5/28/08]: I finally got the jar!!!

A couple weeks ago I was at the beach and visited one of my favorite B&M cigar shops. They have been a Tatuaje account almost since the beginning so they get all the good stuff. A major reason why I like them so much. I got lucky and just happened to stop by when they had just a few of the elusive and almost mythical Tatuaje Blacks in the humidor. I didn’t have enough money to buy all eight *snif* but I did grab these four. The Tatuaje Black is Pete Johnson’s personal cigar. Once upon a time the only way to get one of these was to meet the man and have him offer you some. He has decided this year to release a limited amount to the public. Select shops received one or two cabinets of 24 and later this year they will be released for sale in a collectible ceramic jar. I can’t wait. I’ve already started to save up for one. These are really cool looking cigars. They have a really unique nipple on the head and the foot is unfinished. They smell amazing but I am admittedly a little hesitant to spark one up before I get my hands on that jar. Maybe I’ll talk myself into smoking just one sometime soon. Here is a picture of my good fortune…

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Redux: Tatuaje Reserva SW Thursday, Feb 7 2008 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0″ x 47 ring

The Tatuaje Reserva SW just may be my favorite cigar bar none. When asked to make a list it always lands in the number one spot, but in my mind the lines on these sorts of things are a little less clear. The point is, I love this cigar and make a point to enjoy one on a regular basis. When I first struck up my blog’s relationship with my friends over at CigarsDirect.com I told them my favorite cigar was the Tatuaje Reserva SW. They asked for a list of my favorites so as is typically the case, the Reserva SW ended up in the number one slot. As a very generous thank you for the Reviews I’d be writing for them, they sent me a few of these gems to enjoy. I have posted a review of the SW in the past but honestly I didn’t give it the full attention to detail it deserved so as I went to grab one of the SWs that CigarsDirect.com sent me I knew it was time to revisit this stellar cigar here on the blog.

The Tatuaje Reserva SW is part of the Selección de Cazador line of Tatuajes, which is also commonly referred to as the Brown Label or Tatuaje Cabinet, and even sometimes as Tatuaje Miami. The Reserva extension of this line is a collection of super premium cigars. It is available in three vitolas. The robusto sized 5×50 Reserva J21, the “A” sized 9.25×47 Reserva A Uno, and the Churchill sized 7×47 Reserva SW. The SW is a not so subtle reference to Sir Winston Churchill who was particularly fond of the vitola that now bears his name. Of course like all Tatuajes, the SW is made in the traditional Cuban style with a triple cap by the master blender and cigar maker Don Pepin Garcia. The Reserva takes it’s Cubanesque styling a step further with the “Reserva” name and the black and gold Reserva band that very closely resembles the “Reserva” band used by some Cuban brands’ super premium line extensions. Pete Johnson is a huge fan of Cuban cigars and the Cuban cigar industry so a lot of what Tatuaje does is fashioned after the Cuban brands. The Reserva Line of Tatuajes tend to be a milder blend then the rest of the Brown label line but I find that they tend to be a bit more complex as a result.

Before getting down to business, I took a moment to admire the leathery brown wrapper. It had a slight oily sheen and a few thin but prominent veins running across it, giving it a slightly rustic look. The triple cap on the head clipped perfectly with my trusty Palio. A pre-light puff reveals a perfect draw and delivers a hint of black pepper to the toungue. I used my brand new ST Dupont X-tend lighter to put the cigar to flame. The Reserva SW starts off like most Tatuajes with Pepin Garcia’s trademark peppery start. It only takes a few good draws for this one to settle down. Noticeably mellower than the standard Brown Label Tats, for most of the 1st half it is a very smooth and creamy smoke. It has a very woody core with undertones of coffee and cream. The creaminess of the smoke has an almost buttery feel to it. The smoke is thick and slow to dissipate. Once you pass the halfway mark, the cigar begins to pick up a bit. It gets a bit more robust but never threatens to become what you’d call full bodied. The flavors got more earthy and leathery, less creamy, and the finish seemed to hang on longer but it never lost its smoothness. As I tried to nub it down to my fingers there was a return of the black pepper I experienced at the start of the smoke. It was there for about the last smokable inch of the cigar and may be attributable to tar buildup near the head. Construction was impeccable and the burn perfect. The ash was firm but a bit papery on the edges.

The Reserva SW is far and away my favorite Churchill and when pushed to name a number one overall favorite cigar, this one still manages to grab that title for me. With only one anomalous exception among the many I’ve smoked, I have never been anything short of wowed by this cigar. It is 2 hours of pure smoking pleasure. It’s smoothness couple with its impressive complexity suits my palate to a “T”.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: Tatuaje Reserva SW

Rating – A+
Matt’s Top 5

My Prize has Arrived Friday, Feb 1 2008 

I won a ST Dupont X-tend lighter in CigarInspector.com’s cigar review contest and the lighter has arrived. It is a very sharp looking lighter. Click the picture for a better view.


A big thanks to CigarInspector.com for selecting me as the winner and to TopCubans.com for supplying the prize for the contest.

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