A. Fuente Hemingway Work of Art Maduro Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Hemingway Band(lost my camera so this scan of the band will be a place holder until I can get a pic of the cigar)

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 47/8” x 46/60 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Even new cigar enthusiasts seem to know all about the legendary and elusive Hemingway Maduros and the Work of Art tends to be one of the most coveted of that group.  Given that fact, I am not going to bore everyone with a lot of fluff on this review.  If you don’t know about them, a quick Google search will tell you all you need to know.  It seems like a lot of cigar smokers, especially the newer ones who haven’t had a chance to try these, go to great lengths to run the Hemingway Maduros down.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of a Hemingway Maduro, the thing you need to be aware of is that they only come out twice a year.  Just before Fathers’ Day and again just before the Christmas Holidays.  those are the times to be on the look for them.

While I enjoy most of the Hemingway Maduros, I find the WOAM is the one Hemingway Maduro Vitola that is truly special.  It seems to me that there is something about this specific size that the blend and the Maduro wrapper are perfectly suited and the result is amazing.  The WOAM is the one Hemingway Maduro that I will still go to some lengths to find.  I’d hate to ever find my humidor without a few of these resting inside.

So, you already know I like these cigars so my final opinion isn’t going to be a surprise, but let me tell you all about my experience smoking this particular WOAM…

The dark maduro wrapper is very rough and rustic looking.  It’s bumpy and veiny and has a dry look to it.  The aroma of the cigar is a rich tobacco with a hint of cocoa.   This unique perfecto is a great shape with a fat bulbous foot that ends in a small nipple at the tip, and a steady taper down to a perfect 46 ring gauge at the head.   The draw is always a little tight at first but it opens up quickly once you get the burn up onto the bulb of the foot.  Construction has always been consistently perfect on these.  I’ve smoked many and never had any issues with burn, draw, or any other part of the construction of these stogies.

The WOAM starts off smooth and easy with coffee and nut flavors.  As I made my way up to the thickest part of the cigar I also found earthy notes and lots of dark chocolate.  As I progressed down the taper earth and wood become the dominate players but there are still nice notes of cocoa here and there and a bit of maduro sweetness on the finish.  the last third or so is a lot of wood and earth with some pepper and spice as well as it becomes a bit fuller and more robust.  An excellent finish to a stellar and complex smoke.  The Hemingway Work of Art Maduro is a real treat.  Christmas is right around the corner so these should be showing up in cigar shops again soon.  Perhaps in a month or two so keep you eyes out.  CigarsDirect.com who generously provided the cigar for this review often has WOAM’s available. I commend signing up for their email subscription because they always send out an alert when they get these tasty treats in stock.  You can sign-up right at the top of their main page.

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God Of Fire 2005 by Carlito Double Robusto Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Double Robusto 5.75″ x 52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The God of Fire is an extremely limited edition cigar made once a year by the Fuente Cigar Family for the company Prometheus.  Each year Don Carlos blends one size and his son Carlito blends a few others.  It is a very pricey cigar running in the $20 plus range.  In 2005 the Double Robusto was made by Carlito.  Sold in boxes of 10, the cigar is adorned in two ornate red bands.  The main band depicts the figure of Prometheus enduring his rather gruesome punishment for bring fire to the mortals.

Each cigar is wrapped in a very handsome Cameroon wrapper.  The wrapper leaf is so good looking it is almost hard to believe it is a Cameroon.  It has very little tooth and appears very smooth with very tiny, very fine veins spider-webbed across its surface.  It has a very uniform brown color and has the appearance of expensive leather.  It also sports a massive cap.  I counted 4 seams spiraling around the head of the cigar.  Examining the foot shows perfectly bunch tobacco with a dark, oily spot dead center revealing the presence of robust ligero in its core.

The God of Fire starts off smooth and creamy right from the start.  It has a very woody flavor complimented by a slightly sweet spice.  The smoke was amazingly smooth from start to finish.  Along the way I picked up notes of nuts and espresso.  The aroma had a hint of cinnamon in it and the last third was dominated by the original flavors of spice and wood.  The flavors were medium bodied and I considered the strength to be medium as well.  As for the burn and the draw, you’d be hard pressed to find a better constructed cigar anywhere.

With a lofty name like God of Fire you might expect a powerhouse cigar but that isn’t the case here.  The cigar is smooth and elegant and easy smoking.  It is a pleasure from start to end, but it does carry a very steep price tag relegating this cigar to primarily be a special occasion smoke.  It is certainly something every cigar smoker should try at least once.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Lancero Monday, Jul 26 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan and Costa Rican
Size: Lancero 7.0″ x 38 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The fact that this line of cigars was re-blended by Don Pepin Garcia should leave it as no surprise that a Lancero was eventually added to the card.  Pepin has a reputation for being partial the old-school Cuban way of doing things and he seems to have a love of the traditional connoisseur vitolas  like the Lancero.  Not only that, but he seems to have a special talent for masterfully blending for the Lancero as his Lanceros tend to be the best on the market in my opinion.  That said I have been looking forward to trying this cigar given how much I have enjoyed the other larger sizes in the line.

Like a lot of Lanceros it isn’t the prettiest cigar.  It is a bit bumpy and lumpy looking but the draw is excellent and the burn is razor sharp.   It starts off a little peppery before falling into a woody/nutty core complimented with leather and occasional subtly sweet caramel notes.  There weren’t any dramatic changes in flavors but rather shifts in intensity between the present flavors and a build up of black pepper near the end of the smoke.  Watchout for the ash on this one.  It is a little flaky and falls off easily.  If you don’t pay attention you’ll be wearing it.  All in all the Nestor Miranda Special Selection Lancero is an excellent cigar that I will smoke again.

Ashton VSG Wizard Tuesday, Jul 20 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 56 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

There isn’t much left that hasn’t been said about the Ashton VSG.  It is an extremely popular line of cigars made for Ashton by the Fuentes.  If you are new to the VSG, then surf on over to my review of the VSG Sorcerer and read the background info on this smoke there.

The Wizard is the largest of the VSG family at least as far as the ring gauge goes. It is also one of the very few vitolas that does not sport a box press.  It uses the same dark and leathery Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper as the rest of the line.  Long time readers of my blog already know that I am not a fan of this large of a ring gauge on a cigar.  I feel that the Wizard is a prime example of why that is.  All the wonderful flavors that you’d expect from a VSG are muted and muddled in this format.  There are still notes of earth and leather and sweet spice but they are not as sharp or intense.  The cigar overall is milder and weaker than the other vitolas in the line.  It is a good cigar in a line of great cigars which makes it a bit of a disappointment for me.  Of course, YMMV.

My Father No.3 Cremas Friday, Jul 2 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Cremas 6.0″ x 49 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

So as the story goes, Pepin’s son Jamie had a secret project he was working on.  He was creating a cigar in tribute to his father and he was doing it behind Pepin’s back.  He managed to keep it a secret up until he was nearly finished with it and when Pepin found out about it he told his son to give him three cigars which he promptly smoked and loved.  That is the Birth Story of My Father Cigars.  The cigar is made up up of tobacco from the Garcia’s own farms for the binder and filler, and the wrapper is a lovely and oily Habano leaf grown in Ecuador by the Oliva Tobacco family.

The My Father line of cigars is available in four sizes:

  • No.1 Robusto 5.2″ x 52
  • No.2 Belicoso 5.2″ x 54
  • No.3 Cremas 6.0″ x 49
  • No.4 Lancero 7.5″ x 38

In addition to these cigars there have been a couple of line extensions added to the brand including the My Father Cedros Deluxe and Le Bijou 1922.  The original My Father is an beautiful looking cigar with a large ornate band and a smooth and oily colorado claro wrapper.   The No. 3 Cremas is an interesting vitola to be because of the unique style of the head of the cigar.  It comes to a very short taper, almost like it was going to be a belicoso and then someone just stopped the taper and completed the cap.  The result is reminiscent of the fumas style nipple but in truth this is quite different from that.  I found I really like this style from both a look and feel perspective.  The slight taper was comfortable when smoking and it thought it was unique and pleasant looking.

I found the cigar to be very pleasant and more mild than just about any other DPG smoke I’ve tried.  There was lots of coffee bean and dry wood on the palate and the flavors had a creamy texture to them.  The aroma produced by the smoke was elegant, and floral.  The last third of the cigar was more robust with a mild spice and some leather and occasional flashes of black pepper.  The burn was impeccable and the draw perfect.  The ash was a little loose and flaky so I had to ash often, but otherwise I had no complaints for this excellent cigar.

CAO La Traviata Intrépido Saturday, Jun 19 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Size: Double Corona 7.0″ x 54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

I don’t know about you, but over the past several years it seemed to me that everything CAO did was centered around some kind of gimmick.  Neon lighted humidors, barber pole wrappers, car trunk cigar boxes, etc.  The focus has been all on the marketing and gimmicks to the point it seemed as if they had lost touch with just making cigars.  It showed in the quality of the smokes they were putting out too.  Then the go and release the La Taviata.  No gimmicks, no fancy boxes or over the top elaborate modernized bands.  Just a classic style cigar with a classic looking band and even using an old classic Cuban brand name.  Very un-CAO like really.  I have to say they should concentrate on the cigar itself more often, but more on that soon.

The Intrépido is a BIG cigar.  I called it a double corona in the stats list above, but with a 54 ring gauge it is one big ass DC.  Perhaps calling it a Gigante would be more accurate.  It has a good-looking Colorado wrapper, a little oily and a bit bumpy.  It is finished off with a sloppy looking cap and moderately simple band.  As big as this cigar is, it is packed full of tobacco.  There were no soft spots to be found, the draw excellent and the burn was razor-sharp.

After a bit of a peppery start this cigar is very woodsy with lots of cedar and oak as the dominate flavors and just beneath the covers is a slightly sweet spice the balances it out nicely.  I have to think that is courtesy of the Cameroon binder.  At different times during this very long smoke (I smoked this a little north of two hours) I picked up some leather, coffee,and licorice.  I found it to be a nicely balanced and decently complex smoke.  It is a far better cigar than its very modest price tag would imply.  The Intrépido is the largest size in the line and it only costs around $6.  CAO departed from their glitzy high-priced and gimmicky approach with this cigar and it easily the best cigar they have made in the past decade and it is an inexpensive and economical smoke that far out-performs its price tag.  I found it to be a very good medium bodied cigar.  This size however is a bit too large for me.  It was very hard pressed to finish it. I wouldn’t classify this as a strong cigar, but rather because of it size and the sheer volume of tobacco I had to smoke to get through it, I started to feel a little green towards the end.  I think the shorter vitolas would suit me much better.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break Saturday, May 29 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican
Size: Rothschild 4.5″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Nestor Miranda Special Selection changed quite a bit from its original incarnation when Nestor Miranda of Miami Cigar & Co. asked Don Pepin Garcia to re-blend and make this cigar for him.  I don’t know much about this cigar before Pepin got his hands on it.  The coffee break is supposed to be a smaller more convenient format for the highly touted, and very large Danno which is Nestor’s 20th Anniversary cigar also blended and made by Pepin.  Surprisingly, there is absolutely no mention what so ever of the Special Selection cigars on the Miami Cigar & Co. website.  Why do so many cigar companies fail at the simple task of keeping their websites up to date?  It seems to be an annoying fact of life for cigar lovers who crave information.  Cigar companies seem loathe to part with it.

Dressed in a dark brown leather jacket of a wrapper leaf it looks grainy and has small veins spider-ing across its surface.  The band is simple and elegant, and after clipping the excellently applied cap a quick test of the draw reveals perfection and a rich preview of whats to come.  Although there is none of the infamous “Pepin Black Pepper”, the cigar is very Pepin-esque and leaves no doubt as to who blended this smoke.  The Nicaraguan tobacco seems to dominate at the start with lots of rich earth notes complimented by leather and coffee.  Once you get about half way in it starts to develop some Honduran spice and some nutty undertones of raw almond or maybe walnuts.  The last third is spicy and earthy with a slightly sweet finish.  I found this cigar to have an almost Tatuaje like nature to it which of course only makes me like it even more.  It is an excellent smoke and I enjoyed the size.  It is a convenient afternoon smoke and I plan to keep a handful of these in stock at all times.  I can see me reaching for one of these whenever I can’t make up my mind on what I want to smoke.  It will compete heavily with the Oliva V Belicoso in that role for me.

Perdomo Grand Cru Maduro Torpedo Monday, May 24 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Long Filler
Size: Torpedo 6.0″ x 54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

This new offering from Perdomo is a Nicaraguan puro that is made with 100% Semilla Habano tobacco.  Simply said, it is all Cuban-seed, Nicaraguan grown tobacco and they all happen to be selected from the same 2004 crop.  It is offered in 4 run of the mill sizes and in three different wrappers.  You can have it in a Connecticut Shade, Nicaraguan Corojo, and a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper.  I was curious when I saw it was available in a Connecticut Shade wrapper.  Where was that particular wrapper grown?  Do they grow that wrapper in Nicaragua?  I’m not sure but I didn’t think that wrapper type is grown anywhere in that country.  If it isn’t grown in Nicaragua, then that version obviously couldn’t be called a “Nicaraguan Puro” but I guess that doesn’t really matter.  Back to the cigar at hand.  For this review, I will be smoking the Maduro variety in the Torpedo format.

This one started off like another Perdomo cigar.  One I don’t care for.  There was a bitter and metallic flavor that reminds me of sucking on a penny.  Unlike that other cigar though, this one improved quickly and dramatically.  After a few puffs of that unpleasant metallic taste the cigar became very earthy and leathery with a slightly tannic finish.  Although not a very dynamic smoke I found it to be enjoyable.  The construction was impeccable which is typical of Perdomo cigars in my experience.  The Grand Cru is a medium bodied smoke and easily the most robust offering I have ever tried from Perdomo but even still it falls well short of being full-bodied.  Perdomo seems to be reluctant to make a truly full-bodied smoke, but they did seem to turn it up a notch for this blend.  In the last third earth was still the dominant flavor complimented by notes of black coffee with the finish turning a bit peppery.

This was a good smoke and my hope is that the metallic start was just a fluke although it isn’t the first time I have gotten that from a Perdomo cigar.  I plan to give this cigar another try soon.  Outside the first few puffs I really enjoyed it.

Perdomo Reserve Criollo 10th Anniversary Wednesday, Apr 21 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Cuban-Seed Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Celebrating 10 years of the Perdomo Reserve line of cigars, Tabacalera Perdomo released the 10th Anniversary Edition sometime last year (if memory serves).  Dressed in a smooth and oily cuban-seed Criollo wrapper the 10th Anniversary is a good looking cigar.  They are available in five sizes:

  • Figurado 5.75″ x 56
  • Robusto 5.0″ x 54
  • Epicure 6.0″ x 54
  • Churchill 7.0″ x 54
  • Torpedo 7.0″ x 54

Today I am smoking the beefy little robusto.  The ring gauge is a little large for my tastes and feel awkward to smoke, but the draw was excellent.  I don’t normally think of a five inch cigar as being all that short, but this one felt shorter than it was because of the HUGE 10th anniversary band.  It was so big I had to take it off before I started smoking it.  Luckily it came off very easily and did no damage ot the wrapper.  Upon lighting the cigar I am greeted by a creamy and decadent aroma the goes perfectly with the smooth, creamy, and buttery flavors of toasted almond, cafe au lait and wood.  The flavors were a contradiction, rich yet at the same time mild in body.  All this was nicely balanced with a light spice on the finish.  The smoke builds in body as I progressed through the cigar.  Eventually the creaminess subsided replaced by more woodsy flavors and spice.  Disaster struck in the last third when I heard a “crack” and the saw the wrapper begin to fall apart.  I don’t know what happened because up to this point the smoke was perfect in almost every way, draw, burn, ash, flavors, you name it.  I did what I could to hold the cigar together so I could finish it.  I was really enjoying it and I managed to keep it smokable until I was done with it.  I have smoked my share of Perdomo cigars and construction has never been an issue so I’d just chalk this incident up to a bit of bad luck and I consider it a fluke.

There have been a few occasions lately where I have found myself very pleasantly surprised by Criollo cigars and I can add this one to that list.  I thought it was an excellent, very smooth and enjoyable cigar that starts off mild and builds into a nice medium bodied smoke.  This one is definitely worth a try.

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Petite Robusto Wednesday, Apr 14 2010 

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Country: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Petite Robusto 4.5″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The My Father Le Bijou 1922 is an extension of the My Father line which was created by Jose Pepin Garcia’s Son Jamie to honor his father Pepin.  Well Pepin created the Le Bijou himself to honor his father, Jamie’s grand father.  Le Bijou means The Jewel and the 1922 is Pepin’s father’s birth year.  It is a good looking cigar.  The wrapper has a dry matte finish to it and it looks like a carved piece of dark wood.  This is another cigar that sports 2 cigar bands.  They are ornate, and beautiful, and large which is odd looking on this petite robusto as most of its length is covered up by the two bands.  Though dual bands have become a bit of an annoyance for me lately as they have become more commonplace; on a positive note the bands on the Le bijou always come off very easily and I have not had one yet that damaged the wrapper.  Because this vitola is so short and the bands are so large, you really need to remove one if not both of the bands before you smoke it.  Again, annoying but not too much so since they do come off easily.

All of the minor annoyances with the bands are quickly forgotten when you light this little “jewel” up.  It starts off with very full and robust, meaty flavors and a peppery kick. It then mellows out a bit and there are notes of wood and earth balanced nicely with a bit of mocha and subtle fruit notes.  There is a creamy characteristic to the flavors as well.  As the smoke progressed into the nub (flavor country) there is lots of spice and those rich meaty flavors return as well.  I literally burned my fingertips a little smoking this cigar down as far as I could before it just started to hurt a little too much.

The cigar smoked well with a good draw and a nice even burn though I did need to make one small correction. After that the burn was problem free.  The ash held well but was a bit papery on the edges and it produced lots and lots of thick white smoke and a strong room bouquet that I found very pleasant.  This full bodied little cigar has earned a spot on my list of box purchase worthy smokes.

Here are a few more takes on this smoke from the blogsphere…

Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve Robusto Wednesday, Mar 31 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Size: Robusto 5.0″x54 Ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Made in Honduras with mostly Nicaraguan tobacco, the Habana Reserve is unique in the prolific number of lines in the Romeo  y Julieta portfolio.  I believe, but am admittedly not certain, that this is the only one that is not made in the Dominican Republic.  It is a handsome cigar with a good looking oily wrapper that has the look of leather.  Constrction of the cigar seems to be high quality.  The wrapper is neatly applied as is the double cap.  The draw is ideal and the cigar is firm and well filled.

The Habana Reserve is purported to be RyJ’s most robust offering.  That may well be the case but it is far from being a full bodied smoke and perhaps speaks to just how mild the other lines are.  I am ok with calling it a medium bodied smoke, but it lacks a lot of the oomph I expect from a cigar made of mostly Nicaraguan tobacco.  I am just not getting that Nicaraguan earthiness.  If i didn’t know there was Nicaraguan tobacco in the cigar and was smoking it blind, I’d probably guess it was a Dominican cigar.  The flavors are pleasant enough, woody and floral, but they are a little thin.  As the smoke progressed it developed a little more body making it more enjoyable if not any more interesting. Towards the end it developed a bit of a peppery bite and a hint of that earthiness I was looking for but was missing almost the entire time.

This smoke is a bit one dimensional and doesn’t hold much for the seasoned smoker.  However, it is a smooth pleasant cigar that could be enjoyed by the beginner or occasional smoker.

Redux: Liga Privada T52 by Drew Estate Friday, Mar 19 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Stalk Cut Sungrown Habano
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Honduran
Size: Toro 6.0″x52 Ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Drew Estate has been making quite the splash as of late on the cigar world and especially in the online cigar community and it is not for a type of cigar you would typically associate with the brand.  Recently they have had two very successful and very well received lines of cigars and they are not flavored or infused in any way.  They are traditional cigars and they are sold under the name Liga Privada.  First came the No.9 and most recently the T52 which a lot of cigar smokers are raving about.  Not that long ago I was able to smoke and review a pre-production version of the T52.  Specifically “blend #3” which was supposedly selected as the final blend for what would become the production version of the T52.  Now I have heard second and third had, that Drew Estate actually tweaked that final blend a bit at the last minute using a hybrid of the pre-production blends #3 and #4.  I have no idea how accurate that is if at all but I heard it said often enough that I thought it worth mentioning.

Since I smoked that pre-production version of the T52 I have been looking forward to revisiting the smoke in its final off the shelf incarnation.  I was very surprised by that first T52 and thought it to be a stellar cigar.  You can read my review of it by clicking here.  One of the unique features of this cigar is it’s wrapper.   It is a one of kind wrapper leaf not used on any other cigar.  It is grown in Connecticut and it is harvested in a unique fashion.  You can read all about it in that review of the pre-production stick.

Visually this cigar is just as beautiful as the pre-production version.  Dark and oily, and virtually flawless.  This one was a little different in the flavor department though, and that is not a bad thing.  This T52 starts off with very full and robust meaty flavors.  You feel like you just sat down and began eating a four course meal.  It was wonderful, but I knew if it kept up for the entire smoke it would be too much.  Thankfully it calmed down a bit after the first inch or two.  The I was treated to rich and decadent notes of chocolate and espresso with the occasional flash of licorice.   I don’t recall ever smoking a cigar with such a distinct chocolaty flavor to it.  It would switch back and forth between the thick meaty flavors and the slightly lighter chocolate and espresso.  Towards the end it became very full and robust again with a bit of black pepper on the finish.  I smoked this one down to the nub.  Construction was absolute perfection .  Perfect burn, perfect draw, perfect ash.  I don’t think you could construct a cigar any better than this. I have to say I enjoyed the T52 immensely and found it to be even better than I remember the pre-production blend #3 to be.  This is a must try for any lover of stout, full bodied cigars.  It has earned a spot on my “Matt’s Favs” list.

H.Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Size: Toro 6.0″x54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

H. Upmann is a cigar brand with a rich Cuban heritage. Like most American cigar smokers, I have very little experience with that storied version of the brand. Instead the H. Upmann I know best is made in the Dominican Republic. Back when I was just a fledgling cigar smoker, Upmann’s were listed among my favorites. I thought of them as a very reasonably price, excellent quality, medium to mild smoke. As I gained more experience and my palate developed, I quickly lost my taste for them. That is except for one particular line. Even after I moved on from H. Upmann to other more dynamic and robust smokes, I still continued to enjoy the H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon. At that point in my cigar smoking career I had developed a fondness for the Cameroon wrapper and the Upmann was one I continued to enjoy along with the Torano 1916 and others. Eventually I moved on from my Cameroon kick and thus stopped smoking even this line of Upmann’s. A recent conversation about Cameroon cigars brought back memories of this particular cigar and I decided I wanted to revisit it again as it has been a while since I have enjoyed one of the Vintage Cameroons.

The Dominican H. Upmann brand is owned by the tobacco giant Altadis, USA who also happens to be a stake holder in the Cuban cigar company Habanos, S.A. The Cameroon wrapper conceals a Nicaraguan binder an a three country blend of long filler from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru. It is excessively adorned with three bright red bands and a cedar sleeve. There are just bunches of opportunities to ruin the wrapper here as you get the cigar ready to smoke. I happen to share my friend Jamie’s view on this. One band is enough, simpler is better. The more things you are gluing around a cigar the more chances there is for that glue to get on the wrapper and bring disaster as you remove them just to get the cigar into a smokable state. I did manage to get my sample unwrapped with the wrapper leaf unharmed so now on to the smoke.

The Upmann wrapper isn’t as toothy as a lot of Cameroons in my experience, but like most there are plenty of tiny veins crawling across its surface. The draw is good but the large ring gauge is awkward to me. I rarely smoke cigar this large anymore which I think makes it more noticeable to me. The burn is excellent, straight and slow and cool. The ash is a little flaky but not really a problem. My memory of this cigar is far better than the current reality. I remember enjoying this cigar a lot way back when I used to smoke them. Now it just seems flat to me. The flavor is nondescript and light, a very mild smoke. there is a hint of that sweet spice that I always liked from a Cameroon, but I think the large ring gauge and its accompanying large amounts of filler have muted it a bit making it barely detectable. Overall this smoke just doesn’t suit me any more. It is not a bad cigar, but it is just too mild and monolithic for my tastes. I have some fond memories of this cigar and perhaps that’s where this cigar will have to stay for me… A nice memory from my cigar smoking past.

Davidoff Special ‘R’ Tuesday, Feb 9 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: USA Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Robusto 47/8x50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The name Davidoff is nearly synonymous with luxury.  The name also has a reputation for quality and excellence.  There is a lot of great information about the man and the company on their website Davidoff.com.  One other commonly held perception of Davidoff is mild cigars and there are many smokers in the cigar community that mistake “mild” to mean “flavorless”.  The Special <<R>> is the first Davidoff cigar I have had the pleasure of trying.  No matter what line of Davidoff Cigars you might be interested in, the fact is they are all pretty expensive, almost universally costing more than $10 a piece.  With my predisposition towards strong robust cigars, I admit that I allowed their mild reputation and lofty price tag keep me away up until now.

I have a friend who is a fan of Davidoff and more precisely their blender Henke Kelner.  I have listened to him rail against the the idea that Davidoff only makes mild cigars and one of the lines he liked to use as an example of a more robust offering is the “Special” line of Davidoff cigars.  So I was happy to receive this particular Davidoff from CigarsDirect.com for one of my February reviews.  The Special <<R>> is not a mild cigar.  I found it to be a solid medium bodied smoke with robust flavors balanced by excellent subtleties making for an engaging smoke.  A core of smooth and chewy flavors of espresso and earth were complemented by more subtle notes of oak and nuts and an almost buttery feel on the palate.  At times I picked up flashes of slightly sweet, almost caramel like notes on the finish.  The construction was exquisite with a prefect burn, nice ash, and a spot on draw.  I found the Davidoff Special <<R>> to be a very enjoyable, elegant smoke.

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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