Carlos Toraño Noventa Santiago Monday, Jun 30 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Habano Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaraguan – Pueblo Nuevo, Esteli, Jalapa and Condega
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 50 ring

The Toraño Noventa was created to celebrate 90 years of cigar heritage in the Toraño family. In 1916 the patriarch of the family, Don Santiago Toraño made the move from Spain to Cuba to begin his career in the cigar industry. Eventually his three sons joined him in the family business as the Toraños became of of the largest tobacco growers in Cuba. Like a lot of cigar and tobacco families in Cuba, they had to leave after the revolution when Castro nationalized the tobacco industry. The family moved their business to the Dominican Republic and eventually Carlos Jr. moved it again to Nicaragua where it now thrives. I recommend checking out the full story on their website.

The Noventa is made with 5 year old tobacco from the family farms. The cigars are then aged some more before being sent to market, but I could not find any information on how long that additional aging may be. The Santiago is a beautiful cigar wrapped in an oily light brown Habano leaf that looks like it was cut from a piece of expensive leather. It is well filled with not hint of any rib veins in the filler. On the surface everything about this cigar says “top-shelf”, including the price tag. Besides carrying the Anniversary moniker, it also carries the anniversary price point around $11 a stick.

The Santiago is refined and smooth right from the start. Medium bodied, but mild in strength, it delivers strong notes of nuts and leather with occasional flashes vanilla. The bluish smoke is a little thin but is still delivers plenty of flavor. It has a wonderful aroma that is surprisingly very sweet. It is unique because there is no sweetness to speak of in the flavors but it is very prominent in the aroma. About half way through this cigar starts to behave like you’d expect a Nicaraguan Puro to behave. I starts to pick up delivering a bit of spice that replaces cream and nuts I tasted at the start. The spice mixes nicely with a woody core and it starts to develop a bit of strength that was missing in the beginning. The last third was more spice with strong notes of cedar and wood. This cigar ended up packing a decent little punch after starting off a bit mild.

This was a very good cigar worthy of being an Anniversary edition smoke. Construction was excellent with a perfect draw and a razor sharp burn. It had decent complexity with refined, identifiable flavors. It starts off a bit mild but picks up nicely turning into a solid medium bodied smoke with a good buzz factor without being overly powerful robust. This cigar is a must try for any fan of Nicaraguan tobacco.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com:  Carlos Toraño Noventa Santiago

Rating – B+

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Litto Gomez Diez Americano Tuesday, Jun 24 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Corona Gorda 5.7″ x 46 Ring

This Dominican Puro is Litto Gomez’s 10th Anniversary cigar. It is made exclusively from tobacco grown on his farm. The wrapper is a handsome looking, oily leaf with a reddish brown color. It’s color makes it look a lot like a Rosado wrapper. There are very small veins all across it’s surface. It is expertly applied with a neat cap and no rib veins visible in the filler. It appears to be a very well made cigar.

Don Litto has gained a reputation for making some of the strongest, full bodied smokes on the market today. That reputation is why this cigar surprised me. It was medium bodied at best, almost mild. The flavors were surprisingly one dimensional as well, although pleasant. From start to finish all I got from this cigar was wood and a creamy, toasted tobacco. It had very little strength to speak of. Not at all what I was expecting from a cigar made by Litto Gomez.

The construction was excellent. It burned evenly and the ash was well formed and held firm although just a little papery around the edges. The draw was excellent and it burned very cool. I found it to be a good cigar but not a great one, overpriced for what you get out of it.

Read another take on this cigar at The Berris Blog

Rating – B

3 Year Anniversary – Like a Well Aged Stogie Monday, Jun 23 2008 

Today marks the three year anniversary of my little blog here. I started back in 2005. At that time I had it hosted on Blogger and moved it to WordPress a little over a year ago. This milestone had me clicking through a lot of my old posts. It is kind of funny looking back. It illustrates just how much my taste in cigars have changed over the years. Besides my tastes maturing and changing, so has my philosophy on cigars. The things that are important to me in terms of cigars has changed a great deal as well. I am also able to see how my writing has improved over the years. My reviews have gotten a lot better in terms of content and style and I have also gotten better at describing my experiences and the flavors I detect. That said, I still think I am a bit of an amateur in that department, but a better amateur than before (LOL). Given how much I have changed over the years, it has me thinking it is time to write a new “Welcome” page as well as a new “About Me” page with more current information. Look for those in the near future. So to wrap this entry up…

Happy 3rd Anniversary Matt’s Cigar Journal!

Showdown: Padron 3000 Natural vs Maduro Saturday, Jun 21 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Natural or Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.5″ x 52 ring

Lucky7 and Cigarfan over at Keepers of the Flame invited me to participate in their Padron Series Roundup. My first assignment in this project is the Padron 3000. I have smoked both cigars and found them to be enjoyable even if they are bit ugly in appearance. I am not a big maduro fan but for some reason Padrons are the one marca in which I tend enjoy the maduros more than the naturals. To find out more about these great smokes, check out the full review at Keepers of the Flame.

La Aurora Preferido Cameroon No.2 Monday, Jun 16 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican, Cameroon, and Bahia
Size: Perfecto 5.0″ x 54 ring
CigarsDirect.com

The La Aurora Preferido line is a collection of top-shelf cigars. The tobacco is aged in oak barrels. Originally these were all perfectos, but recently they have become available in other sizes. This vitola is one of the toughest to make and only the best master rollers make these cigars. It is no surprise then that the construction of this stogie is consistent and exceptional. The burn is razor sharp, the ash perfectly formed and firm, and the draw is spot on perfection. The thing I like the most about perfectos is how they lend themselves to a complex, dynamic smoking experience.

I really enjoy Cameroon cigars. The unique sweet spice that this wrapper imparts on the smoke is unique and is a flavor I really enjoy. At the start, the thinner tapered foot allows the wrapper to dominate the blend delivering a rich blast of that classic Cameroon with a woody undertone. as I worked my way up to the thick bulge in the middle, the blend over took the Cameroon and all I could tasted was oak with a creamy finish. It wasn’t until I began to work my way back down the taper toward the head of the cigar that I was able to begin to taste the Cameroon again. I was surprised by this and admittedly a bit disappointed since this cigar has Cameroon in the filler as well.

The Preferido Cameroon No.2 is a very good cigar. It is very well made, medium bodied with good flavor. However, I was expecting to be a bit more wowed by this smoke given its reputation and its price. It wasn’t as complex as I would have liked, making it no better than any other quality Cameroon cigar. In fact, I feel there are more affordable Cameroon cigars to be had for less money that can hold their own with this cigar in flavor if not in quality of construction. That said it is certainly worth a try and I did enjoy the smoke.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: La Aurora Preferidos

Rating – B+

A Special Night Saturday, Jun 7 2008 

Last night I attended an event at a local cigar shop. They were featuring the new Nub cigars. Jose Oliva was at the event with Sam Leccia. I took advantage of meeting Jose Oliva and brought my original Oliva Master Blends cigar box with me to have him sign it. The original Master Blends is my all time favorite Oliva cigar. Jose was a really nice guy and it was awesome to have a chance to meet an icon of the industry. You can check out my post which has pictures from back when I purchased the box.

Here is a picture of the signed box sans cigars…

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(click to enlarge)

The Roundup Has Begun Friday, Jun 6 2008 

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Keepers of the Flame have posted the first in a series of side by side reviews of the entire Padron Series of cigars. This first installment is of the new 7000. The Padron 7000 Natural and Maduro are compared side by side with contributions from Brian at Stogie Review and Doc of StogieFresh. It’s a great read and a great start to this project. Head on over and check it out, and keep an eye out for my contributions to this projects as well.

CRA – Cigar Rights of America Wednesday, Jun 4 2008 

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I ran across this press release today. A new organization has been formed to defend the rights of cigar smokers. I think it’s a great idea and some big industry names are behind this thing. I hope time proves that this organization can be effective. As is the norm when these types of organizations launch, the announcement is a bit preachy, but everything it says is legitimate. See the press release below…

Oh, and if anyone from the CRA happens to see this post… Lose the sultry, cigar smoking woman from your website banner. In my opinion it hurts the credibility of the organization. I know sex sells, but but I don’t think it fits or is appropriate in this context.

Press Release

www.cigarrights.org

CIGAR RIGHTS OF AMERICA ANNOUNCES THE FORMATION OF THE GRASSROOTS NON-PROFIT ASSOCIATION OF CIGAR ENTHUSIASTS TO FIGHT TOBACCO TAX INCREASES AND SMOKING BANS.

Los Angeles, May 30, 2008

FIGHTING TO PROTECT YOUR FREEDOM TO ENJOY CIGARS

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”
“Land of the Free”
“No Taxation Without Representation”

These are the principles on which America was founded. Unfortunately for cigar enthusiasts, the age-old pleasure of enjoying a cigar is under attack. On a daily basis, your freedom to enjoy a cigar is being stripped away by an overzealous, anti-smoking movement. Their tactics are varied; be it through supporting onerous cigar taxes or lobbying government for restrictive smoking bans. The anti-smoking movement will stop at nothing short of the complete prohibition of tobacco.

The Constitution of the United States ensures that all men and women have the freedom and the right to the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, cigar enthusiasts have slowly allowed these rights to be removed. Over the past twenty years, the anti-tobacco movement has broadened their reach and scope and are moving towards abolishing ALL forms of tobacco including cigars. Until recently there has essentially been very little organized opposition to their actions. And why should there have been? Most of us assumed that their attention was directed towards cigarettes.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Forty-seven states in America have enacted cigar taxes. Some states have gone as far as taxing cigars at a rate of 75%. Currently, the entire cigar industry is threatened by the Federal Government’s State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) that threatens to increase the Federal cigar tax by as much as 6,000% (no this is not a typo). If it were not for President Bush ‘s veto of the bill proposed by the House and Senate last fall, cigar enthusiasts would currently be paying exorbitantly high prices for the cigars they enjoy so much and nearly every cigar shop in America would have been forced out of business. The proposed bill, which will tax cigars to fund SCHIP, is not dead yet. After the House and Senate reconvene in September, they will again attempt to increase the Federal tax on cigars to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

In addition to a tax increase on cigars, regularly introduced anti-smoking legislation has made it close to impossible for cigar enthusiasts to enjoy cigars. In many states, you are not allowed to enjoy a cigar at your local restaurant or bar. Cities around America are now proposing bans which will, if enacted, stop you from enjoying a cigar outside of public buildings. Who would have thought that the day would come when you cannot legally enjoy a cigar walking down the beach or sitting in your local park?

A number of manufacturers and retailers of the U.S. cigar industry have sponsored the formation of Cigar Rights of America (CRA). The founding sponsors of CRA are:

Arturo Fuente
Ashton Cigars
Camacho Cigars
Corona Cigar Company
Cusano Cigars
Davidoff
Drew Estate
General Cigar
God of Fire
Humidipak
J.C. Newman Cigar Co.
La Aurora
La Flor Dominicana
Perdomo
Oliva Cigar Co.
Padron Cigars
Prometheus
Rocky Patel
Thompson Cigar
(more…)

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