Oliva Special “S” Torpedo Thursday, Jul 31 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
Size: Torpedo 6.0″ x 52 ring

The Oliva Special S is the Oliva’s top shelf offering in their regular production lines. The limited production Master Blends are the other top shelf line from the Olivas. One thing I noticed on the Oliva site is that they have an aging recommendation for their cigars. The Special S apparently should be aged for five years. I find this a little strange, because to the best of my knowledge Oliva does not date their boxes. I could be wrong because I haven’t bought a whole box of Oliva’s since I bought my box of the original Mater Blends several years ago. However, if I’m right and they do not date their boxes, the aging recommendation seems kind of silly to me because there is no real way to know how old the cigars are at the time of purchase. I guess you’d have to start counting from when you bought them. Anyway, as far as I know, this Special S is no where near 5 years old. It has been in my humidor for about 2 months.

The Special S is a handsome looking cigar with an elegant presentation. Unfortunately I failed to take a picture before I pt the cigar to flame and this one certainly deserved a photo display. I was unable to find an adequate picture anywhere on the web to share with you here. Thanks to the cigar band collection at StogieFresh.com I am at least able to display the band. In addition to the elegant band you see above, the majority of the cigars length is hidden in a cedar sleeve that is decorated at the foot with a deep brown band printed with the words “Special S” and the Oliva “O” logo in shiny gold lettering. The overall effect is a beautifully presented cigar. I have heard a rumor the the Special S’s days are numbered and that there are plans to discontinue this line. I have not been able to find anything to confirm that. I also heard the Master Blend 3 will become a regular production cigar, effectively replacing the Special S as Oliva’s regular production, top-shelf smoke. Again, these rumors are from a single source and I haven’t been able to find any more information on this to confirm it. If it does turn out to be true and you are a fan of the Special S, you may want to think about stocking up.

Even though the Special S sports some nice duds, the cigar can hold it’s own in the beauty department even if it were naked. The Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapped used on these smokes is flawless. Smooth with only very tiny veins, it is milk chocolate in color,has an oily sheen, and is perfectly applied to a well filled cigar. I clipped the tapered head with my trusty Palio and tested the draw. It was too tight so I trimmed a bit more off the head in hopes of opening up the draw a little more. It didn’t seem to help so I was left to hope it would loosen up a bit during the smoke. As it turns out it didn’t. The cigar wasn’t plugged and it was certainly smokable, but I had to pull harder than what feels comfortable to me. By the end, my jaw was tired and I developed a bit of a headache because of the tight draw. Other than the draw, which was probably a fluke and not common, there were no other construction related issues. The burn was perfect and the ash firm and well formed. Flavor wise this cigar was pretty good, but nothing I would call “Special” (pun intended). This was a very smooth smoke, medium bodied, and medium in strength. I tasted good flavors of leather and coffee and there was a bit of spice on the finish. The cigar never changed, never did anything to make me think wow, just good solid flavors that remained consistent from start to finish. Near the end it became difficult to keep the cigar lit because of the overly tight draw so I put it down a little sooner than I probably would have otherwise.

The Special S is a good smoke that is refined and smooth. Construction seemed excellent except for the draw problem and the flavors are very enjoyable but one dimensional. I would hope for a bit more from what is supposed to be a premium cigar.

You can get your Oliva Special “S” cigars at Cigars Direct.com.

Rating – B

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Casanova’s Latest Masterpiece Wednesday, Jul 23 2008 

If you remember a while back I posted about a gentleman with an amazing talent.  His name is Brad Casanova and he is an amazing wood worker and a cigar enthusiast.  He has created several carvings of cigar bands for his own personal collection.  Well, he was recently commissioned by Camacho Cigars to create a carving of the Camacho Corojo 10th Anniversary cigar band which was to be hung at the Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, FL.  This is what the band looks like…

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He has completed the carving and his new masterpiece is hanging on the wall at the Corona Cigar Co. now.  You can see pictures of his amazing work on his blog.  Just surf on over to Casanova Cigar Carvings and check it out.  You’ll be amazed by this piece and by the many other incredible works of art he has created.

Fantastic work Brad!

Nub 460 Habano Sunday, Jul 20 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 460 4.0″ x 60 ring

The Nub is the brainchild of Sam Leccia.  Sam spent an number of years working for the Oliva Cigar Family.  He believes that every cigar has a sweet spot where it achieves the pinnacle of its flavors at some point during the smoke.  Sam wanted to see if he could create a cigar that could capture this sweet spot from the very first puff and hold it to the very last.  The Nub is what he came up with.  These cigars a very short and have huge ring gauges.  The smallest of the line is 54 ring, but the majority of them are 60 and above.  The largest of the line is a whopping 66 ring gauge.  Each size is supposedly the equivalent to a more traditional sized cigar.  For example this 460 Habano is supposed to have the same amount of tobacco in it as a 6.75″ x 50 Churchill.  You can get the whole story on the Nubs by clicking here.  I have smoked three of the Cameroon Nubs already and why they were decent flavor wise, all three spit apart on me and unraveled.  I hope I don’t have the same problem with this Habano.  Let’s see how it does…

The Nub Habano has a smooth, oily wrapper the color of milk chocolate.  The beefy ring gauge is a bit awkward but the draw was excellent. This cigar really did start off great from the get go.  It had a strong woody core accompanied by nuts and rich creaminess.  The flavors were very good and consistent throughout.  It lacks complexity but the flavors are excellent making it a very enjoyable smoke.  The ash was a bit flaky on the edges but it holds very firm.  I would have never needed to tap off the ash if I didn’t want to.  I did have one problem with this smoke though.  Even though i took my time with it, it was a solid hour to smoke it, the burn was extremely hot and once I got about half way through it was almost too hot to hold and taking a puff became a dicey proposition.  It was difficult not to burn my fingers and lips while smoking it.  As short as this cigar is it becomes almost unsmokeable too early.  I had the same experience with on of the Cameroons that managed to hold together long enough form me to get that far.  On the bright side I did not have those kinds of construction issues with this cigar.

Overall I was impressed with this cigar.  The flavors were really great and I enjoyed it a lot, but the heat issue makes me hesitant to smoke these very often.  I’ll give it another try at some point but if I have the same experience I’ll have to write these off.

Rating – B

Camacho 1962 Torpedo Friday, Jul 18 2008 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: 3rd priming Habano-seed Criollo
Filler: Honduran Cuban-seed long-leaf tobaccos
Size: Torpedo 6.0″ x 54 ring

Camacho cigars has made a name for itself among lovers of strong, robust smokes.  Their name is synonymous with powerhouse smokes but the truth is they have put out a few select cigars that are a bit more accessible to novice cigar smokers and those who enjoy a more refined smoke with less punch.  The Camacho Select comes to mind as a prime example of a medium bodied Camacho.  I’m giving a bit away at the start here to say the 1962 is another one of Camachos medium bodied offerings.  The Camacho 1962 was made to commemorate the year that Julio Eiroa began his journey in cigar making after fleeing Castro’s post revolutionary Cuba.

Wrapped in an oily Criollo leaf, the 1962 is filled with “extensively aged” Honduran tobacco.  I always wonder why terms like “extensively aged” or “extra aging” are used instead of just telling us how long the tobacco is actually aged for.  My cynical nature believes that this so they can use whatever they need to in the cigars to keep turning them out once the “aged” tobacco runs out. But that is just me being jaded and suspicious.  The Band is very ornated and elegant looking and it has a second band on the foot completeing an handsome presentation.

You may be able to see in the picture that the wrapper was cracked in a couple places on this specimen.  I don’t know why or how it happened but I can say upfront that it was minor and did not effect the smoke.  It still burned just fine and held together as if it wasn’t cracked at all.  This torpedo had a spngy feel to it which I have experienced in other Camacho Torpedos, in particular the Camacho Select Torpedos.  The pre-light draw was very light like sucking air through a straw.  It started off very mild.  The flavors were weak and muddled, basic tobacco with a hint of spice.  It didn’t take long for this cigar to start burning really hot.  I had to make a very concious effort to sip on it to keep it from getting bitter.  About midway through the flavors began to improve.  It started to become a nice medium bodied smoke dominated by leather and pepper with a nice leathery finish.  At this point the flavors stayed consistent and near the end the pepper starts to take over and it begins to develop some of that Camacho oomph.

Overall this was a decent medium bodied smoke once I got past the lack luster start.  That said, I still wasn’t that impressed with the smoke.  It was a bit one dimensional.  The promise it started to show at the end has me thinking this just may have been a bum stick so I may have to revisit this sometime soon.  I have another Torpedo in my humidor so this is a prime canidate for a Redux review. For now though I can only give it a “C”.

You can get your Camacho 1962’s at CigarsDirect.com

Rating – C

Bolivar Belicoso Fino Friday, Jul 11 2008 

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Country: Cuba
Year: Unknown

This cigar was given to me as a Christmas gift from a very generous friend of mine in Denmark. Bolivar is one of the more famous Cuban marcas and the Belicoso Fino one of its most popular sizes. I enjoyed this smoke while on vacation at the beach this week. It was a beautiful coastal Carolina evening as I sat on the screened in porch at my families condo. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every aspect of this special cigar so I paired it with a cool bottle of water. Bolivars are among the strongest cigars the Island puts out. Here is a little blurb about the marca from Habanos, SA.

Simon Bolívar was one of the great historic figures of the 19th Century who liberated much of South America from Spanish rule.

The Bolívar brand was created in 1902 and is based today at the Partagas factory in the heart of Havana.

It is perhaps not surprising that a Habano named after such a powerful figure is blended to match his might. Bolívar is among the strongest, most full bodied of all Habanos. It boasts an unrivalled richness of flavour in its blend of Vuelta Abajo region tobaccos that makes it one of the most sought-after marques amongst experienced smokers.

The Bolivar Belicoso Fino is a handsome looking cigar. Wrapped in a light brown, leathery leaf it has some small veins running across the surface along with a slightly larger puckered vein that seems to be a trademark of a Cuban wrapper. The cigar is firm its entire length and has a nice heft to it. It seems to be packed full of tobacco. The cigar has a musty barnyard aroma. After clipping the head, a pre-light draw delivers a leathery flavor to the palate. The draw is excellent providing just the right amount of resistance.

The BBF, starts of a little mild and easy going, unusual for a Cuban Bolivar. It is woody with subtle notes of what I will call spiced fruit. I had a hard time coming up with a descriptor for the flavor and I’m not sure I have it right but that’s the best I could come up with. About half way through it begins to pack a bit of a punch. It is full bodied and robust. The woodiness takes on a distinct cedar flavor with a slightly sweet undertone to it. I picked up flashes of fruit and pepper as I made my way into the last third of the smoke. The finale continues to be a full and robust smoke with lots of earth and wood, and a strong spice on the finish. The Cuban “twang” that is often associated with cigars from the island was present throughout the smoke.

Although a full bodied cigar, the BBF is not as full or strong as other Bolivars I have tried. I think that this vitola is an excellent introduction to the marca for a smoker new to Cuban Bolivars. It is a wonderfully complex smoke with refined, well defined flavors. It is a good cigar for a special occasion, or any occasion.

Rating – A

The Cigar Spy recently smoked one of these.  Checkout his take on the Bolivar Belicoso Fino.

Showdown: Padron Ambassador Natural vs Maduro Thursday, Jul 10 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lonsdale 6.875″ x 42 ring

Lucky7 and Cigarfan over at Keepers of the Flame invited me to participate in their Padron Series Roundup. My second assignment in this project is the Padron Ambassador. My first contribution to the project was the Padron 3000. The Ambassador provided me with a different experience than I’ve had with other sizes of Padrons.  Padrons are the only cigars that I prefer the maduros over the naturals.  But this wasn’t the case with the Ambassadors.  I found the natural to be an excellent smoke, perhaps the best $5 cigar I have ever smoked.  The maduro was a good cigar but nothing special.  The natural was an excellent cigar.  See the full compiled review over at Keepers of the Flame.

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