Avo Heritage Toro Monday, Jan 31 2011 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0 x 50 ring

The Heritage is a full-bodied offering from AVO.  That probably surprises a lot of folks as AVO cigars are generally known to all be mild to medium bodied smokes.  This cigar shares the same wrapper leaf as my all time favorite AVO the Compañero, also known as the LE09.  Since it sports the same wrapper, not surprisingly it shares some similarities with that smoke. It has that same exotic spice at the start and it comes on strong.  The flavors are full and rich with earthy notes of must and cocoa, balanced with creamy flavors of nuts and oak/wood.  The flavors are definitely AVO, but it comes in a non-typical robust delivery with a bit of strength behind it as well. By the time I finished this smoke, I found myself wanting to go and light up another.  This is a stellar cigar.

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Illusione ~hl~ (Holy Lance) Candela Sunday, Jan 23 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Candela
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 40 ring

I have to believe that this cigar is a first in the Modern Cigar Era.  A Candela wrapped Lancero.  I recently reviewed the Illusione ~88~ Candela which kindled a spark of interest for this wrapper that I largely ignored in the past.  Like I said in that review of the ~88~, Candela wrappers seemed to be reserved for use on bad cigars.  The regular Illusione ~hl~ sports a rosado wrapper and is probably my number one favorite Illusione cigar.  The standard ~hl~ is the definition of elegance and balance.  The Candela ~hl~ is a different animal.

I don’t know if the blend of this cigar was tweaked or just entirely different from the blend used for the standard Holy Lance but this green version tastes nothing like the original. The Candela is heavy on the palate with a strong spice.  The Candela wrapper imparts a crispness with a slight grassy note and a subtle sweetness that is almost complete over powered by the spice and tobacco flavors.  The heaviness of the flavors is backed up by a fairly stout punch in the strength department.  I found the ~hl~ Candela to be a bit rough around the edges but still a really good robust smoke.  If you asked me to pick a favorite of the Candelas I think I’d have to give the nod to the ~88~. One I will certainly enjoy again. Still, I thought the Lancero was excellent and offers a different Candela experience.  It is a cigar I will certainly enjoy again soon.  My Local just got a bunch of boxes in so I should be able to stay in good supply.

H.Upmann Magnum 46 (2008) Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

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Country: Cuba
Size: Corona Gorda 5.6″ x 46 ring

Follow along here and I think I can describe to you in a meaningful way what smoking this cigar tasted like.  Imagine you brewed a nice robust pot of Antigua Guatemalan coffee.  Next you lighten it with some half and half and then to top it off you put just a dash of Romana Sambuca in it. Now take a big swallow of that coffee and and imagine what the lingering finish of that swallow tastes like.  Next remove that slight bit of sweetness that the Sambuca gives it…

There you have this cigar.  A subtle bit of earthiness with strong flavors of coffee and cream and hint of anise.  It was smooth, creamy and perfect from start to finish.  The burn and draw were perfect.  The ash was perfect.  This cigar was perfect, like smoking a cup of coffee.

Eddie Abbott – A True BOTL Sunday, Jan 16 2011 

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This past Friday the cigar community lost one of the truly great Brothers of the Leaf.  Eddie Abbot was taken from us far too early after a battle with a brain tumor.  Eddie was a beloved husband and father as well as a beloved member and friend to the guys of Blowinsmoke.net and cigar lovers in general.  He was a proud father who took every chance he had to brag on his kids and was a truly generous soul.  He made friends of everyone he came in contact with.  Proof of that was evident to all the guys who got to know him on the cigar forums.  Most of us never got a chance to meet him in person, a few were blessed to have met him and spent some time with him.  I only knew him on the forum, but I still consider him a friend.  He was one of the most generous Brothers I’ve met.  Eddie loved good cigars and I know he really enjoyed a good Opus X cigar.  He even loved to share them with his fellow BOTL whenever he had a chance.  If you were ever lucky enough to be surprised by one of his generous “cigar bombs” chances are there was an Opus in there for you to enjoy.  Today is an unseasonably warm day after an extended bitter cold snap here in NC.  I think that this warm day is courtesy of Eddie so that I could have an opportunity to go outside and enjoy an Opus with him because I am sure he is up in heaven smoking one with me now.  I’m smoking this 4 year old Opus X Super Belicoso in honor of Eddie.

Rest in peace Eddie.  You are going to be missed, and may God bless you and your family.  My prayers are with you and them.

Illusione ~88~ Candela Wednesday, Jan 12 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Candela
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 52 ring

Green is the new Brown…  Or something like that.  Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars seems to be single-handedly championing a return of the Candela wrapper to premium cigars.  Once a mainstay of American cigar smoking, the modern smoker tends to look down on the green cigar wrapper as being too mild, near flavorless, or too grassy.  The truth is they are right.  Just about any candela wrapped cigar you find on the market today just isn’t very good.  It turns out that perhaps this is because no one bothers to put the wrapper on a good cigar.  That is until Dion started putting it on his Illusione cigars.  The first to get the green treatment was the lancero, the ~hl~ or Holy Lance.  Now you can also find the Candela on the very large  ~888~ and the beefy robusto ~88~.

When I saw the Candela ~88~ on the shelf and I was intrigued.  I hadn’t tried a Candela wrapped cigar in ages and none I have ever had were any good, but this time the wrapper was on a cigar/blend that I knew I really enjoyed so I had to give it a try.  I was amazed.  The wrapper dramatically changes the cigar when compared to an ~88~ with its normal Nicaraguan wrapper.  It was crisp and smooth.  The Illusione core flavors of Earth and leather are still very much present, but they are expertly balanced with a slight sweetness and tea notes.  Later in the smoke I started to pick up a floral component to the flavors as well.  It was an amazingly good smoke, complex in flavor and visually interesting with its bright green wrapper.   This is one Candela that is certainly worth trying.

Cain F 550 Wednesday, Jan 5 2011 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Triple Ligero (Esteli, Condega, Jalapa)
Size: Robusto 5.75″ x 50 ring

A full-bodied, full-strength cigar.  Typical Nicaraguan profile of spice, earth, and leather.  Some coffee notes as well.  Finishes the same as it starts and remains consistent throughout.  Just straight forward flavors in a very robust package.  Excellent construction, with a even burn and an excellent draw. Not a bad smoke, but nothing special either.  Not much more to say about this one except to apologize for forgetting to take a picture.

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