White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #6 Thursday, Jan 28 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 6 is a big beefy torpedo.  The wrapper is very handsome.  It is the dark brown of a leather bomber jacket with a very slight tooth and an oily sheen.  A cold draw delivers some black pepper and musty earth flavors.  Upon lighting it up it starts off with a sharp black pepper bite.  It doesn’t take long for the black pepper to fade to the background and notes of warm hardwoods and dark chocolate dominate complimented by a subtle, sweet undertone of vanilla and spice.  The draw is perfect and the burn jagged but even.  Smoke has a rich, heavy, cedar aroma.It is a very robust smoke, not quite full bodied with a stout nicotine punch. (more…)

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Another Change to the Ratings System Tuesday, Jan 26 2010 

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It is the year 2010 and if classic cinema is any indicator, we are lucky to still be alive.  Anyway, with a new decade comes yet another change to my ratings system. Click here or the link on the left sidebar to read all about it.

White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #4 Thursday, Jan 21 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 4 is a dark, oily, rustic cigar.  It looks like a maduro or an oscuro wrapper and measures 5 inches Long.  I’d say it is a 50 ring gauge, your standard robusto.  The first inch or so of this cigar was very harsh and bitter and very powerful.  Thankfully it mellowed out a bit after that.  It was a medium to full bodied smoke with strong flavors of earth and leather and wood with a slight sweet undertone. At the halfway mark the smoke developed a chewiness to it but the flavors became a bit muddled. There is quite a bit of strength in this cigar, packing a fairly strong nicotine kick. The flavors and the strength have me thinking this is a Nicaraguan cigar. The last third was surprisingly mellow (considering how robust the rest of the smoke was)  with flat notes of burnt wood.

The construction was excellent. A good draw, even burn, and a well formed ash that held well. It didn’t finish very strong but overall it was a very nice smoke.  This cigar seemed very familiar to me.  I could very well change my mind after smoking the third cigar but at this point I think these cigars may be made by Oliva. I’ll even go as far as to say this particular cigar, if it was indeed an Oliva may have been an El Cobre Robusto.  It was far too robust to be an “O” Maduro and besides not really tasting like a “G”, it also isn’t box pressed like a “G” would be.   That said, I’ll reserve my final verdict until after I smoke the last cigar. Boy this could get embarrassing if I’m wrong……

Check out the review of Cigar #3 on Zen & the Art of the Cigar.

You can also read Jamie’s review of Cigar #1 here and my review of Cigar #2 here.

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White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #2 Thursday, Jan 14 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 2 has a wrapper that is pretty easy to identify visually. It is a Connecticut Shade wrapper. I’m not sure if it is Connecticut grown or Ecuadorian. I measured the cigar and it is 6.5 inches long. The ring gauge appears to be about 44 or 46 which makes this cigar a Lonsdale. I guess it could be a Churchill but usually they are a full 7 inches and the ring gauge usually a little thicker so I am sticking with calling it a Lonsdale which just happens to be my favorite size. The wrapper is smooth and buttery looking. The color is uniform and it has very few veins on it. Looking at the cigar I immediately thought of an Ashton 8-9-8. Lets light it up and see what it tastes like. (more…)

The White Band Project 2010 Thursday, Jan 7 2010 

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The time has come once again for me to team up with my friend Jamie of Zen & the Art of the Cigar for a series of Blind Reviews.  Last January Jamie and I each exchanged three cigars for the other to review, but before we handed them over, we removed the manufacturer’s bands and replaced them with our own plain white bands numbered 1 through 6.  You can click here to read about last years blind review series and you’ll find links there to the actual reviews.  Last years series involved us each selecting 3 different cigars that were differentiated by price range.  We each prvided the other with a bargain cigar, and mid-range cigar, and an expensive top-shelf premium cigar.  This year we are changing the rules. Taking a page out of Camacho’s book we are going to run this series of reviews kind of like Camacho’s Black Band Project.  This time we are each selecting one cigar maker and will then select three different cigars made by that manufacturer.    For example, I could choose Camacho as the cigar maker and then I would provide Jamie three different cigars by Camacho.  For the sake of this example lets say I would give him a Camacho Select, a Triple Maduro, and a Room 101.  Then I’d remove the bands, number them and hand them over to Jamie to review.  He’d select some other cigar maker, or the same, I’d have no way of knowing nor would he.  He will give me three different cigars from whatever cigar maker he chose and I would review those cigars blind.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the concept of a blind review, all it means is that we will be smoking each of these cigars without knowing who made the cigar and what the name of the cigar is or anything else about it besides what we observe with our own eyes and tastebuds.   The idea is that we will give unbiased accounts and opinions of the cigars without be influenced by any prejudices we might have about a particular brand or line of cigars.  We had a lot of fun doing this last year.  The results were interesting and it generated a lot of great conversation at the cigar shop.  So here we are, doing it again.  This time I cooked up a fancy new Logo for the series and some fancy bands for the cigars.  Jamie and I meet tonight to exchange cigars. The reviews will be published on Thursdays over the next three weeks followed by a wrap-up that will include the big revelation of what each of the cigars actually was. Be sure to check back weekly to keep up with the project.

Here is a picture of the three cigars Jamie will be reviewing…

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UPDATE[01/10/2010]:

Here is a picture of the cigars that Jamie gave me to review…

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Below is a list of the reviews for this project. As the reviews are posted this list will be updated with links to each of the reviews.

A. Fuente Hemingway Classic Maduro Monday, Jan 4 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto7.0″x 48 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

With the Holiday Season just passing into the rear view I figured I’d wrap the festivities with a Hemingway Maduro Classic.  The Hemingway Maduros always make an appearance on tobacconists shelves every year around the Holidays.  The particular cigars for this review are from the 2008 run.  The Classic seems to be one of the harder to find vitolas of the Hemingway Maduros.  At least I rarely ever see them.  More common at the shops in my area are the Signature Maduros and Works of Art Maduros.  Even the Hemingway Between the Lines seem to be more common around here than the Classic Maduro.

I smoked two of these cigars for this review because I wanted to see if what I thought of the first one I smoked would remain consistent with another sample.  The second cigar was identical to the first.  There isn’t much I can say about the Hemingway Classic Maduro that I haven’t already said about the Signature Maduro.  It has a dark leathery wrapper.  Construction is impeccible, the burn perfect and it produces a tn of thick white smoke.  It is a decently complex smoke with a heady aroma.  The flavors are well balanced and defined.  Rich creamy notes complimented by leather and a musty earthiness and a slight maduro sweetness.  The only thing I can say that is markedly different about this cigar is that the larger size makes for a longer smoke.  I always enjoy these cigars whenever I smoke them, but I feel the flavor profile is particularly well suited to the cold weather of the season.  A cozy spot in a comfortable chair with a nice hot cup of coffee or even a hot chocolate makes for a great smoking experience with this cigar.

You can get Hemingway Maduros @ CigarsDirect.com

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