Happy Birthday to Me! Tuesday, Apr 29 2008 

Had a great Birthday today. My wife got me an Oasis XL Plus for my winecoolerdor and I finished off the day in style. Smoked a 2005 RASS and paired it with a glass of Remy Martin VSOP. I am amazed how every year these cigars get better and better. With 3 years on the beautiful Robustos, their youthful edge is completely gone allowing a lot of subtle flavors to come through. It is one of the most engaging smokes I have ever had. It started off with a slight sweetness and a very unique twang that I can’t put words to but was just great. As it progressed it kept changing, it was almost hard to keep up with it. I hadn’t planned on doing a writeup on it so I wasn’t taking notes, but it was such a great experience I felt compelled to write something to help me remember the occasion. Leathery, earthy, nutty and creamy… Just amazing.

Matt’s Top 5

Tatuaje Havana Cazadores Sunday, Apr 27 2008 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Long Filler
Size: Lonsdale 63/8 x 43 ring

The Tatuaje Havana Cazadores come in cedar cabinets of 25 and are packaged in the old Cuban style. They are packed wet and wrapped in foil with a yellow ribbon around the bundle. Here’s some pictures I took back when I bought them. You can click the pictures for an enlarged view.

This vitola is reported to be Pete Johnson’s vitola of choice and it also happens to be one of my favorites as well. I love Lonsdales. I think it is just possibly the best size for a cigar. When used with a good blend of tobaccos, the ring gauge and length lends itself to a wonderfully complex smoke with a near perfect duration, about an hour to 75 minutes. I have a hard time picking between this cigar and the Reserva SW as my favorite of the Brown Label line. When pressed I usually end up giving a slight edge to the Reserva SW only because I find it a little more complex.

Like almost all of the Tatuajes, it starts off with a full blast of pepper. Once you work your way into the smoke a bit, the pepper calms down a little. I find this stick to be the most “cubanesqe” of all the Tatuajes. It is a heavy, full bodied smoke with some serious strength. They are hard to take on an empty stomach. The smoke progresses nicely, first with black coffee flavors transitioning into a rich nutty/earthiness with brief flashes of cocoa. It picks up a lot near the end getting spicy and peppery again with notes of wood. It has black pepper on the finish throughout the smoke.

The burn goes crooked every once and while but if you’re paying attention, you can get it to correct itself. The draw is perfect and the ash is well formed. The thick white clouds of smoke produce a room bouquet is very reminiscent of that of a Cuban Montecristo. Tatuajes produce amazing aromas and this one may have the best aroma of all of them.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Tatuajes and the Havana Cazadores are no exception. This is an exceptional cigar that I could be happy smoking everyday. I plan to make sure I never run out of these gems.

Rating – A
Matt’s Top 5

Ride For Kids Update: Goal Exceeded!!! Saturday, Apr 26 2008 

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The last day of donations was an eventful day capped off by a very generous donation for a BOTL at SocialCigar.com. The Ride is next Sunday on May 4th and I’ll announce the winners of the cigars on the 5th. I expect a few more offline donations from family and friends to trickle in over the next week that are independent from the cigar drawing so I’ll wait until I announce the winner to post the final total on the money raised. I have a lot of people to thank for all the help, not the least of which are all the generous souls who donated. When I wrapped this thing up on the 5th I will make sure I get all those thank yous listed and done right, but right now I want to say a quick thanks to the following people…

Billy Ferriolo of CigarsDirect.com
Jeff Godfrey and Chris Harper of Tabacalera Perdomo
Dylan Austin of Camacho Cigars and Social Cigar
Bill & Rob of Tobacconists of Cary
Tom of Keepers of the Flame
Brian of Brian’s Random Thoughts & The Stogie Review
Stinkie at CigarBeat.net
The Patricks and George at The Stogie Guys
Jesse at CigarJack
Ricky & Scott at Cigar Command
Kevin at The Box Press
International Cigar Club
The Herf Hut
Social Cigar
Vintage Cigar Club

The Internet is a powerful place. It gets a bad rep because of all the people that use it for bad things. I think the Internet community of Cigar smokers have shown how it can also be used to do a whole lot of good. Thanks everyone for your support.

Ride for Kids Update: Last Day!!! Friday, Apr 25 2008 

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Today is the last day to get your donations in to be eligible for the drawing to win one of 4 boxes of cigars. As of this morning I have raised $2205 which puts me less than $800 from my goal of $3000. Every little bit helps so please donate today. All donations are tax deductible. Here is a picture of the prizes.

Click here for all the details on how to donate and enter the drawing.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Presidente Wednesday, Apr 23 2008 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring

I provided a bit of background on the Don Carlos line of cigars back when I reviewed the Don Carlos #4 for CigarsDirect.com in October of 2007. Rather than rehash all that here I am just going to cut to the chase today and provide you this link to go back and read the review of the #4 if you are interested. Now onto the good parts, smoking the Presidente…

The wrapper on this cigar is vieny and a splotchy brown. This is unusual for a Don Carlos. They usually have very few viens and the color is usually very smooth and uniform. The rustic appearance had no adverse effects on the smoke though. It was mellow and smooth, the flavors were creamy and refined. It was slightly sweet, typical of a good Cameroon. I found this one to be a little one dimensional compared to the smaller No. 4, but the flavor was so good it was still a very enjoyable smoke. As is always the case with the Don Carlos, the construction was perfection. the burn was razor sharp and the smoke was thick and creamy. These cigars never disappoint.

I used a new style of cut tonight and I have to say I really liked it. I used a double V-cut. This technique was shown to me by my friend Jamie who is a regular at Capital City Cigars in Raleigh. He calls it the “Butterfly Cut”. You use a V-cutter to make a small cut across the head, then you turn the cigar and make a second V-cut perpendicular to the first creating a shallow X across the head. It makes for a very clean cut and a good draw. I enjoyed it so much, it may become my cut of choice. Of course, it is best suited to larger ring gauges. I don’t know that I’d use it on anything smaller than a 48 ring. i highly recommend you give it a try. i think you’ll find you like it.

Get yours at CigarsDirect .com: Arturo Fuente Don Carlos

Rating – B+

Ride for Kids: Broke the $2000 Mark Tuesday, Apr 22 2008 

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Today I broke the $2000 mark in my fundraising efforts for the Ride for Kids and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the US. Thank you very much to everyone who has donated. If you haven’t gotten your donation in yet, there is still time to do so and get in on the drawing for a free box of cigars!

Just click here for all the details on how to donate and enter.

I also want to say thank you again to the generous companies that donated the cigars for the drawing. Please feel free to pass along your appreciation to these companies both verbally and by supporting their products and patronizing their businesses. I want to thank Billy and CigarsDirect.com, Jeff & Chris and Tabacalera Perdomo, Dylan and Camacho Cigars, and Bill & Rob with the Tobacconists of Cary. Thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Get your donations in by Friday the 25th! Help me reach that $3000 fundraising goal!

Illusione ~cg:4~ Monday, Apr 7 2008 

Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona 5-5/8 x 46 ring

The Illusione line of cigars are a somewhat unknown brand that is rapidly gaining in popularity. It won’t be long before everyone knowns about this Nicaraguan gem. The Illusione is the brainchild of Dion Giolito who is a veteran of the cigar industry. He wanted a cigar that hearkened back to the days before the Sandinistas took power in Nicaragua and nearly destroyed the cigar industry there. Since there was nothing like that available in the market, he went out and created the cigars he wanted. In an unusual twist, this Nicaraguan Puro is made in a factory in Honduras. Just another unique fact about this unique cigar. The Stogie Guys have a great interview with Dion Giolito that is a very good read. I recommend checking it out.

The Illusione ~cg:4~ is a good looking corona with a smooth dark brown wrapper topped with a cuban style triple cap. It is packed full with nicely bunched tobacco giving the cigar a good solid feel in my hand. The aroma of this cigar is rich and decadent. I could spend 5 minutes just sitting here smelling it, but the real fun is smoking a cigar so I put it to flame. Initially it is very spicy and thick. A cloud of white smoke fills the room with an amazing aroma. One of the most striking things about this cigar is how wonderful it smells both pre-light and during the smoke. It really enhances the experience. After the initial spice, my palate was filled with a robust toasted tobacco flavor with notes of leather and an underlying spiciness. In the last third of the cigar it started to develop a unique bite that is hard to describe. The ash is very dark and a bit flaky. I had to correct the burn a couple times when it went crooked and wouldn’t correct itself.

This is a very good smoke that I’d rate as one of the best in its price range, running $6 to $7 a pop. I want to say this is a medium bodied smoke if a bit on the fuller end of medium, but I wonder if that perception is skewed by the amount of full bodied, robust cigars I usually smoke. I have a feeling that to someone who typically smokes milder cigars, they would tell you this is a full bodied, more robust cigar. Whatever you want to call it, it is a top shelf cigar at a mid-shelf price.

Rating – B+

What others say about this cigar:

Keeper of the Flame
Cigar Stars

Ride for Kids Update Sunday, Apr 6 2008 

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Well response has been a little slower than I initially anticipated. I thought a lot more people would be willing to donate $10 for a chance at a whole box of cigars. It’s less than a month until the event and I am well short of my $3000 fundraising goal. So I am making another plea for donations. Ten dollars may seem like a small amount of money, but when a lot of people are able to give this modest amount, it adds up really quick. Please click on over to my original Ride for Kids Post to find out more about the organization I am raising money for and how you could win one of four really great boxes of cigars, including a sealed box of Fuente Fuente Opus X Petit Lanceros. Here is a picture of all the prizes up for grabs.

(Click to Enlarge)

Every $10 you donate through my giving page earns you one entry into the drawing for these cigars. A $50 donation gets you 7 entries and the only limitation on how many entries you get is how much you can afford to give. All donations benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the US and are tax deductible. All the money donated via the giving site is delivered to the charity by First Giving. I never handle any of the money given through that site.

Be sure to read the instructions detailed in the Ride for Kids 2008 post by clicking here. There you will find the link to donate.

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