Tatuaje Reserva Regios Tuesday, Jun 30 2009 

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Country: USA
Wrapper: Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.5″ x 50 ring

This year hasn’t been as prolific with the new cigars like last year was, but 2009 has brought a few new things from my favorite brand of cigars, Tatuaje.  This year there are two new additions to the Tatuaje Reserva line of cigars.  Two of my favorite Tatuaje Brown Label vitolas now have a Reserva version, the Noellas and the Regios.  The Regios will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the first Tatuaje I had ever smoked, and it was the first vitola in the brand that I purchased an entire box of.  So when I heard that the Regios was being used for a new Reserva I was predictably excited.  The Reserva Noellas and the Reserva Regios use a different wrapper than the standard version.  The regulars have a Corojo wrapper, but the Reservas use a sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  If that sounds familiar it is because that is the wrapper used on the ultra-limited  Monster Series Tatuaje, “The Frank”.  In fact, these two new Reservas have been dubbed “mini monsters”.  You may also feel a tickle of deja vu hearing about the Reserva Noellas.  That is because there was a Reserva Noellas once before.  Back in 2006 a very few select retailers received without warning a one time run of Noellas that has a Reserva  label on the box.  There wasn’t a Reserva band on the cigars though.  These were the first incarnation of the Reserva Noellas and they were a one time run of 200 boxes or so (couldn’t find the exact number).  This original version was also referred to as a Noellas Oscuro, but I will talk more on that in the near future……

So a quick recap of the current Tatuaje Reserva line.  We have the:

  • Reserva SW – Churchill with a Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva “A” Uno – “A” size with a Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva J21 – Robusto with a Ligero Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva Noellas – Corona with a Sun Grown Broadleaf Wrapper
  • Reserva Regios – Robusto with a Sun Grown Broadleaf Wrapper

The moniker “little monster” seems appropriate if you hold the Reserva Regios side by side with a Frank.  The wrappers are identical and it really does look like a smaller version of the Frank in appearance.  It’s a dark, oily, and toothy wrapper  with just a couple prominent veins running it’s length.  It is topped with an expertly applied triple cap like all the Tatuaje cigars.  Construction is very rarely an issue with a Tatuaje and this cigar is superbly put together with a perfect draw and a nice heft.  It is dressed in the standard brown Tatujae label accompanied by a second black and gold Reserva band.

The Reserva Regios starts off a little different than the Frank or most any other Tatuaje.  it lacks that blast of black pepper I’ve come to expect every time I light up a Tatuaje.  Instead it  begins with a mellow spice and a slight sweetness that is common with a sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  It is very, very reminiscent of the Frank.  It starts to pick up quickly, its strong sun grown “twang” is accompanied by notes of leather and wood.  It has an amazingly slow cool burn that allows the flavors to have amazing depth and balance.  It gets more and more robust as I make my way through the length of the cigar.  The “twang” remains the core of the flavors ad it is complimented by strong notes of leather, wood, earth, and spices.   Each draw delivers a something a little different than the last.  This was an amazing smoke.  Delicious, complex, and an absolute joy to smoke.  It starts off medium bodied and a little mellow and it just escalates in body and power as you smoke it, finishing off as a robust, full bodied treat.  This cigar is an absolute “must try”.

Rating – A+

For another take on this cigar check out “A Cigar Smokers Journal”
Also, Ben has a Reserva Regio In Hand

Update: For the sake of completeness there are a few Tatuaje Reservas that i left out on the list above. The reason for doing so was because two of them were one-time special runs and the third I admit I didn’t know about at the time I wrote this review and I am not sure if it is a one-time run or not, but it is limited to one specific retailer. So the three missing Reservas are…

  • Reserva Noellas 2006 (Oscuro)
  • Reserva SW Maduro
  • Reserva Petite Tatuaje

The Noellas I mentioned above and will talk more on in a future review.  The SW Maduro was a special release sold by one shop out west.  Pete made the cigar as a kind of memorial for a fallen friend.  The proceeds or some portion of them went to benefit that friends family.  The Petite Reserva appears at the moment to be made for one specific online retailer.  I have no additional information on that one at this point.

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Cohiba Siglo I Tuesday, Jun 23 2009 

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Country: Cuba
Size: Très Petit Corona 4.0″ x 40 ring

Cohiba is one of the most famous cigar brands in the world.  Thanks to the United States trade embargo with Cuba and General Cigar’s appropriation of the trademark in the US market, it is also a brand name surrounded by a lot of confusion.  There are a surprising number of people out there including some who consider themselves “cigar smokers” that fail to understand that the famous Cohiba, the Cuban version, in no way shape or form is related to or similar to the Cohiba that is for Sale in the US.  The matter gets even more muddled when you bring into the conversation the other company that was making Dominican Cohibas.  I believe this third company was called “Cohiba Caribbean’s Finest Cigars”.  The cigar bands on this company’s version of the cigar more closely resembled the famous Cuban cigar band whereas General Cigar’s Cohiba band is very different.  General’s Cohiba is commonly referred to as “Red Dot” due to the red dot that fills the letter “O” in Cohiba on their bands. General Cigar sued Cohiba Caribbean over the Cohiba name and won.  Cohiba Caribbean was ordered to stop sales and production of their version of the Cohiba cigar.  To take the story to Soap Opera proportions, Cubatobacco, the Cuban company that owns the original and some would say “real” Cohiba brand has sued General Cigar over the trademark and is seeking to had the courts stop them from branding and selling cigars with the Cohiba name.  That suit has gone back and forth for a while and as far as I know is still ongoing.  I did see an interesting post about it on The Stogie Guys’ website that linked to an actual court opinion that had ruled in favor of Cubatobacco.  General had planned to appeal.  I don’t know where that battle stands today but I assume it is still on going.  What all this drama boils down to is this…Your Dominican “Red Dot” Cohiba has nothing to do with the famous Cohiba brand.  It just happens to bear the same name.  Other than that the Dominican Cohiba probably has more in common with a Macanudo.

I will refrain from delving deeper into the origins of Cohiba but I do want to take a moment to share some information on the Siglo line, because after all, eventually I’ll get to talking about the cigar I smoked which was a Cohiba Siglo I.  I’ll keep it short, mainly because I only know what Min Ron NEE tells me in his book, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars.  The Siglo Series was introduced in 1992.  According to MRN it is speculated that the line was created to fill the void left by the discontinuation of the Davidoff marca.  All of the Siglo line is reportedly milder than your standard Cohiba.  There is actually an italicized note from MRN saying that going over the draft of the book, his Cuban consultant that was working with him confirmed it is true that the line was created to fill that gap left by Davidoff.  I can say that while milder than a Cohiba Robusto, the Siglo I is not a mild cigar.  I have never had the pleasure of a Cuban Davidoff, so I have no personal knowledge of how the Siglos compare to the cigar they have replaced in the Habanos catalog.  The Siglo I comes in cardboard packs of 5 or 10, in 3 packs of tubos, and in varnished Slide Lid Boxes of 25 cigars.  The one I am smoking today was a gift from a very generous friend so I have no idea what type of packaging it spent the first part of its life in.

Lets start off with appearance.  The Siglo I is a très petit corona, or if you like to use the official Habanos, S.A. factory names for the vitolas, then you’d call it a perlas.  It measures a diminutive four inches in length and a thin 40 ring gauge.  The wrapper is a little darker than what I have seen on the standard Cohiba line and this specimen has a small water spot on the wrapper.  It sports a triple cap like all Cuban parejos do.  A little bumpy and rustic looking, it seems well filled and exhibited a nice firm draw before I lit it.  With eager anticipation I used the “Three Match” technique to get this cigar lit.  The technique is much easier on a smaller cigar like this than it is on a thicker robusto or a long double corona.  A few puffs in and I immediately realized my mistake.  I decided to light this cigar up much too early.  There were moments of harshness and a grassiness that told me this cigar could have used some time aging, probably a year or two at least to settle in.  You could definitely see this cigars potential to be stellar though.  There was an underlying creaminess to it and perhaps some notes of roasted nuts complimented by a vague hint of sweet tea.  Those flavors only occasional came through as the more vegetal and grassy flavors of youth dominated the smoke.  I really wish I had been more patient with this one.  I think once it has a chance to settle down this would be an very excellent medium bodied smoke.  Patience is a must though if you want to find that out.

Cohiba is one of the most famous cigar brands in the world.  Thanks to the United States trade embargo with Cuba and General Cigar’s appropriation

of the trademark in the US market, it is also a brand name surrounded by a lot of confusion.  There are a surprising number of people out there

including some who consider themselves “cigar smokers” that fail to uderstand that the famous Cohiba, the Cuban version, in no way shape or form is

related to or similar to the Cohiba that is for Sale in the US.  The matter gets even more muddled when you bring into the conversation the other

company that was making Dominican Cohibas.  I believe this third company was called “Cohiba Carribbean’s Finest Cigars”.  The cigar bands on this

company’s version of the cigar more closely resembled the famous Cuban cigar band whereas General Cigar’s Cohiba band is very different.  General’s

Cohiba is commonly referred to as “Red Dot” due to the red dot that fills the letter “O” in Cohiba on thier bands. General Cigar sued Cohiba

Carribbean over the Cohiba name and won.  Cohiba Carribean was ordered to stop saels and production of thier version of the Cohiba cigar.  To take

the story to Soap Opera proportions, Cubatobacco, the Cuban company that owns the origional and some would say “real” Cohiba brand has sued General

Cigar over the trademark and is seeking to had the courts stop them from branding and selling cigars with the Cohiba name.  That suit has gone back

and forth for a while and as far as I know is still ongoing.  I did see an interesting post about it on The Stogie Guys’ website that linked to an

actual court opinion that had ruled in favor of Cubatobacco.  General had planned to appeal.  I don’t know where that battle stands today but I

assume it is still on going.  What all this drama boils down to is this…Your Dominican COhiba has nothing to do with the famous Cohiba brand.  It

just happens to bear the same name.  Other than that you Dominican Cohiba probably has more in common with a Macanudo.

I will refrain from devling deeper into the origins of Cohiba but I do want to take a moment to share some information on the Siglo line, because

afterall, eventually I’ll get to talking about the cigar I smoked which was a Cohiba Siglo I.  I’ll keep it short, mainly because I only know what

Min Ron NEE tells me in his book An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigar.  The Siglo Series was introduced in 1992.  According

to MRN it is speculated that the line was created to fill the void left by the disconinuation of the Davidoff marca.  All of the Siglo line is

reportedly milder than your standard Cohiba.  There is actually an italicized note from MRN was alble to confirm with his Cuban consulatant on the

book that says he was ablr to confirm it is true that the line was created to fill that gap left by Davidoff.  I can say that while milder than a

Cohiba Robusto, the Siglo I is not a mild cigar.  I have never had the pleasure of a Cuban Davidoff, so I have no personal knowledge of how the

Siglos compare to the cigar they have replaced in the Habanos catalogue.  The Siglo I comes in cardboard packs of 5 or 10, in 3 packs of tubos, and

in varnished Slide Lid Boxes of 25 cigars.  The one I am smoking today was a gift from a very generous friend so I have no idea what type of

packaging it spent the first part of its life in.

Lets start off with appearance.  The Siglo I is a tres petite corona, or if you like to use the offical Habanos, S.A. factory names for the

vitolas, then you’d call it a perlas.  It measures a diminutive four inches in length and a thin 40 ring guage.  The wrapper is a little darker

than what I have seen on the standard Cohiba line and this specimine has a small water spot on the wrapper.  It sports a triple cap like all Cuban

parejos do.  A little bumpy and rustic looking, it seems well filled and exhibited a nice firm draw before I lit it.  With eagar anticipation I

used the “Three Match” technique to get this cigar lit.  The technique is much easier on smaller cigar like this than it is on a thicker robusto or

a long double corona.  A few puffs in and I immediately realized my mistake.  I decided to light this cigar up much too early.  There were moments

of harshness and a grassiness that told me this cigar could have used some time aging, probably a year or two to settle in.  You could definetly

see this cigars potential to be stellar though.  There was an underlying creaminess to it and perhaps some notes of roasted nuts complimented by a

vague hint of sweetness.  Those flavors only occasional came through as the more vegetal and grassy flavors of youth dominated the smoke.  I really

wish I had been more patient with this one.  I think once it has a chance to settle down this would be an very excellent medium bodied smoke.

Patience is a must though if you want to find that out.

Redux: Cruzado Marelas Friday, Jun 19 2009 

Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Size: Perfecto 55/8″ x 46 ring

My first experience with the Marelas was a little disappointing.  However, I decided to hold off giving the cigar a rating and planned to revisit it because I could see a lot of potential in it, plus all the other vitolas I have tried in the Cruzado line have been stellar, especially the Elitas.  The first specimen I tried had an odd bitterness to it that tainted my experience.  This time things were much different.

Right from the start this cigar was smooth and yet powerful, much more like the other Cruzados I have smoked.    It started off with notes of spice and fruit.  As I worked past the bulge of the perfecto it really started to pickup.  Strong robust flavors of coffee and spice mingle with a rich tobacco flavors.  It still wasn’t the power house I found the Elitas to be, but it was much fuller this time, its body on the full side of medium.  As the cigar tapers down it gets spicier and with lots of chocolate and coffee.  it never gets harsh though remaining smooth with a creamy finish that lingers nicely on the palette.  This is more like what I was expecting the first time I smoked this cigar.  An excellent smoke that I highly recommend.

Rating – A

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial No.2 Tuesday, Jun 16 2009 

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Country:  Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler:  Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 4.8″ x 48 ring

La Aroma de Cuba is an Ashton owned brand.  The original is an excellent Honduran made cigar available in a wide range of sizes.  The artwork on the dress boxes and bands is beautiful and the presentation of the cigars is quite handsome.  That goes for both the original line and the Edicion Especial.  The true original La Aroma de Cuba was a Cuban made cigar and was reported to be one of Winston Churchills favorites which is what gives the brand name a bit of cache.  This special edition of the brand is a Nicaraguan made cigar, blended and made by the now famous and highly decorated Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia.  The Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper has a unique hue and oily sheen, and it covers rich Nicaraguan tobacco.

Not your typical “Pepin” smoke. That is the first thing that jumps out at me. From the beginning you notice his trademark black pepper start is missing. That is OK, because what you do get is fantastic. Rich notes of cinnamon and all-spice combined with flashes of cedar make for dramatic start in its own right. Balance isn’t the word I would use for this cigar. It has some serious peaks and valleys. After an amazing rich start the cigar mellowed a bit. Flavors were mainly cedar with a muddled earthiness. It picked back up again a little past the halfway mark with pronounced flavors of roasted nuts that swapped places back and forth with a sharp earthiness. There were some subtle undertones of dark chocolate or cocoa. Seeing it written out doesn’t do it justice. It was actually much better than it looks in print. It started to get muddled again near the nub but it was time to put it down anyway. This was a very interesting medium bodied smoke. One I would very much like to try again.

Some other takes on this cigar:

Rating – B+

‘Gar Tunes: Paris to Cuba by Mario Grigorov Monday, Jun 15 2009 

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a sampling of new music from the composer and musician Mario Grigorov.  His new album is called Paris to Cuba.  This is what Mario has to say about his inspiration for the album…

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Every time I go to Paris, I get inspired. I start thinking about ways I can embrace the city and absorb its magic…

This album takes me back to my time there, and I reflect on how I have always enjoyed traditional and classical French music – been intrigued by the use of melody and sultry textures.  I started playing with some melodies on the piano; inspired by the Parisian mood and architecture, I was trying to re-create the buildings I had seen that stood like frozen compositions. The compositions I began to write would soon lend themselves to a melding with the energy and simplicity of the music I also love from Cuba, along with all of its influences.

It’s not always easy to combine styles of music from their technical anatomies, but I was in no way trying to do that here.  This album, inspired by my appreciation of both styles, came about from the feel-good spirit that both Paris and Cuba share. I must admit, working with my good friend Melissa Newman brought it all together; she embodies the spirit and beauty of these musical cultures.  Her voice created the perfect accent for this project.

The four songs I had the opportunity to listen to were great. Two were instrumentals, “Cuban Soil, Cuban Sun” and “Ice Hotel”, with a decidedly Latin sound but with a “big band” jazz feel to them. The second two songs, “Every Little Movement” and “Snake Eyes” had female vocals that were were sultry and classic.  Those two songs sounded just like something you would hear in an old school smokey jazz club and they were a lot of fun to listen to. From what I have heard from this album, it is an excellent accompaniment to a relaxing evening sitting back with your favorite cigar and sipping rum. I would recommend checking it out especially if jazz with a Latin influence sounds like something you would enjoy.

Here is some more “official” information about the album and the artist… (more…)

Olde World Reserve Maduro Toro by Rocky Patel Wednesday, Jun 10 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Costa Rican Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.5′ x 52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Olde World Reserve Maduro is a very dark cigar. Unnaturally so in my opinion. I won’t speculate on how it is that the wrapper leaf is this dark because I just don’t know, but it is oddly dark to me. It’s a bumpy wrapper almost pitch black in color. The foot is wrapped in a dark brown paper adorned with the Rocky Patel “RP” logo and the head is decorated with an off white band trimmed in gold. The sport a pretty severe box press, and you can get them in a box of 20 or a cedar chest of 50 cigars. They are also available with a handsome, milk chocolate Corojo wrapper which I reviewed last week and they come in three basic sizes. Unfortunately (to me anyway) they are sizes that have become cliche in the US:

  • Robusto 5.5″ x 54 ring
  • Toro 6.5″ x 52 ring
  • Torpedo 5.0″ x 54 ring

The draw on this OWR is a little loose for my tastes, but thankfully not as bad as the OWR Corojo I reviewed last week.  That draw was so loose I think it ruined that cigar.  The maduro at least had some light resistance on the draw and it burned a good bit cooler.  After a spicy, peppery start on the first few puffs, I started to get some very nice espresso notes mixed with some leather.  The flavors quickly became muddled though.  Occasionally I picked up hints of sweetness typical of most maduros.  Otherwise the cigar didn’t do much and stayed consistent throughout.  A little one dimensional the cigar was pleasant but not very interesting.  Medium bodied with a good burn, the construction is very good like most Rocky cigars.

Rating – B

Olde World Reserve Corojo Toro by Rocky Patel Wednesday, Jun 3 2009 

Country:  Honduras
Wrapper: Corojo
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler:  Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.5″ x 52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Olde World Reserve Corojo is a handsome looking cigar.  It’s smooth wrapper is milk chocolate in color.  The foot is wrapped in a dark brown paper adorned with the Rocky Patel “RP” logo and the head is decorated with a dark brown band trimmed in gold.  The sport a pretty severe box press, and you can get them in a box of 20 or a cedar chest of 50 cigars.  They are also available with a very dark Maduro wrapper which I will review next week and they come in three basic sizes.  Unfortunately (to me anyway) they are sizes that have become cliche in the US:

  • Robusto 5.5″ x 54 ring
  • Toro 6.5″ x 52 ring
  • Torpedo 5.0″ x 54 ring

This corojo has a nice rich tobacco aroma which got my hopes up.  Then after clipping the head, my test draw revealed an extremely loose draw that tempered those hopes quite a bit.  I lit the cigar and drawing on it was like sucking air through a giant straw.  It provided no resistance at all which made me worry it would burn way to hot so I made a point to go slow and sip at this cigar.  Despite my diligence the draw was a little problematic.  I occasionaly got very bitter and harsh blasts to my palatte that I attributed to the cigar heating up too much.  In between there were some very pleasant notes of nuts and coffee but they were sometimes occompanied by a sour finish.  If there was any complexity to this cigar at all it was lost with problems I had in keeping it from overheating.  I have one more of these in my humidor so I’ll give it one more shot even though I didn’t see much promise in this cigar even when I was able to taste anything other than the bitter harshness.  If my next go with this cigar proves to be better I’ll post a Redux Review.  If I were to rate it now I’d give it a D and first impressions are hard to overcome, but I’ll refrain from officially rating for now to try and be fair.  With a better draw I think the cigar could score a little better than that.

Rating Deferred

Update: I revisited the OWR Corojo. Read about it here.

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