Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: CT Corojo
Binder:  CT Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 50 ring

I have never been a fan of the Punch Rare Corojo.  It seemed an OK enough cigar but it just never struck my fancy which I thought strange because I generally enjoy Corojo cigars.  I had no idea until very recently that the Punch Rare Corojo doesn’t even have any Corojo tobacco in it.  I thought the wrapper was Corojo but apparently it was a Sumatran leaf of some kind.  Learning that fact kind of annoyed me.  Why the hell do they call it a Corojo if it isn’t?  But ultimately I came to the conclusion that I really don’t care especially since the cigar has largely remained off my radar…

Enter the the Punch Rare Corojo 10th Anniversary Edition.  Wonders never cease, this one actually uses a Corojo wrapper leaf.  What’s more it is a Connecticut grown Corojo wrapper.  I didn’t even know they grew Corojo in Connecticut.  Well there’s lots I don’t know but still, I was surprised by it. General Cigar sent me some samples of the new limited edition of the Rare Corojo and its make-up is intriguing to me so I looked forward to giving this one a try.  I have to say, it is a much better cigar that the previous sticks to carry this name.  It starts off with leather and earth and an undertone of what I would describe as spiced vanilla, giving it a subtle sweetness and creamy characteristic to the flavors.  It builds in body as you progress and it starts to exhibit more spice and gets a little woodsy and tannic at times which may just be a bit of youth shining through, or the Honduran filler dominating the blend (I often get tannic notes from cigars with Honduran tobacco).  Overall the cigar was quite enjoyable and it held my attention nicely with well defined flavors.  It may be a limited edition cigar but it doesn’t carry a limited edition price tag so I would say it is definitely worth trying if you run across them.

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Macanudo Reserva Dorada 2010 Tuesday, Apr 12 2011 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: 1997 Vintage Maduro
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 54 ring

The Macanudo Reserva Dorada is a dark maduro with an earthy aroma and a shiny metal band.  It is an eye catcher on the shelves.  I have to be honest.  I am not a fan of Macanudo in general (although I was recently impressed by the new Gran Cru), but when I saw this cigar with that big metal ring on it, I had to buy it just to try and also to have that band.  For what I don’t know but i had to have so I guess the gimmick worked.  The flavors are mild and classic maduro, a slight sweetness with chocolate an coffee flavors.  The flavors were a little thin though with not much body to speak of.  The draw was a little looser than I prefer but it did produce plenty of thick aromatic smoke.  The burn was a little tricky at time requiring one or two touch ups and the ash was very loose and flaky so I had to keep an ash tray near by.

The final verdict, while it was an OK smoke, it was too mild for my tastes and too thin in the body department.  The ash was kind of troublesome too.  However, the flavors were good and in the end I guess I enjoyed enough to be happy with the purchase though I probably won’t be looking to smoke another.  However, if you like mild smokes and that classic maduro sweet flavor, this cigar is right in your wheel house.

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.

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.

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.

Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria Thursday, Oct 15 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Honduran Criollo ’98
Binder: Honduran Criollo ’98
Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0′ x 49 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Alec Bradley Tempus is made in the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras. This is the same factory the the Illusione and Cruzado cigars are made for Dion Giolito. I mention this because of a story I heard. It is second or third hand so I have no way of knowing how true it is but it is interesting. The story goes that Dion was testing several prototype blends to use in one of his lines. Apparently Dion wants his cigars to change up on him 4 plus times through the course of the smoke so there were several blends that while good, complex smokes, they were passed on by Dion. The rumor is, that one such blend was offered to and subsequently bought by Alec Bradley to become the Tempus. Like I said, I have no idea if it is true or not, but it is an interesting story and maybe it provides some insight into what happens to some of better blends that go unclaimed during the development phase for a new cigar.

The large ornate band and the second gold band at the foot of the cigar gives it a kind of regal look from a distance, but up close the cigar looks rather rustic.  The wrapper drak brown and a little rumpled looking with a sparse scattering of small black spots on it.  It is very veiny and has a slight tooth to it.  The triple cap is sloppily applied.  It kind of looks like a Padron, only slightly better put together.  Despite its rustic appearance, it is obviusly a well made cigar as the draw was near perfect and the burn remained straight and even the entire smoke with no relights or touch-ups.

This was a nice robust smoke.  It burned slow and cool and took me close to two hours to finish.  It starts off with a peppery blast and rich notes of earth and black coffee and a subtle sweetness on the finish.  It is a full bodied start with a bit of a heady punch.  It does begin to mellow out though and the majority of the smoke is nice and smooth with creamy flavors of nuts and oak interrupted by the occasional flash of salty leather.  As I neared the end, it changed back to the robust earthy smoke that it began as with plenty of pepper on the finish.

This was a good complex smoke that was able to hold my attention for the full 90 plus minutes it took to smoke.  I don’t smoke a lot of Churchills because they do take a while to work through so they need to be complex and engaging when I do partake of one.  The Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria fits the bill.  I will certainly smoke this one again.  The Tempus is easily my favorite Alec Bradley cigar.

Rating – B+

You can get Alec Bradley Tempus cigars @ CigarsDirect.com

Casa Magna Colorado Torito Tuesday, Sep 22 2009 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Short Robusto 4.75″ x 60 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Cigar Aficionado named the Casa Magna Colorado #1 on their Top 25 Cigars of 2008 (specifically the robusto).  They did so with a very controversial explanation, stating that the price point of the cigar played a large role in its selection due to the state of the economy. That sparked off a ton of impassioned debate across the cigar smoker world about what should or should not factor into proclaiming a cigar as the #1 cigar of the year.  Where ever you come down on that debate, the general consensus seems to be that the Casa Magna is a decent to very good cigar that carries a reasonable price tag.  Somehow I have managed to fail to get around to trying the Casa Magna up til this point, but today I fired up the beefy Torito to see what I think of this much debated #1 cigar of 2008.

There has been a ton of stuff written on this line of cigars given the hype and controversy that surrounded it earlier this year.  There are lots of places that detail the specifics of the cigar and its makers so I am going to save myself the trouble of rehashing it all here.  You’ve probably already have read all about it, and if not you’ll find the information is easy to locate with a quick google search.  So no more fluff, on to the review…

This short fat robusto is a handsome specimen.  Girthy yet elegant looking in its ornate band and oily rosado colored wrapper.  It’s like a football player in formal wear.  The cap is a little sloppy but that isn’t uncommon in my experience when dealing with these huge ring gauges so we can forgive it.  The filler looks like it is littered with several thick rib veins, another pitfall of a 58+ ring gauge.  it takes a lot of tobacco to create a cigar this thick and I guess you can’t be too picky when trying to get that much tobacco in it.  Hopefully it will not adversely effect the cigar.

The draw is very good and the burn surprisingly even for such a thick cigar.  It burns slow and cool which is certainly a plus.  The flavors seem a bit muted and hard to pick out.  I got notes of white pepper and some musty earthiness and a slight oakiness at times.  It was a fairly smooth smoke, creamy at times but not very dynamic.  I think perhaps that this blend does a lot better in a smaller vitola, but that is just a guess on my part.  It seems to me that some of its complexity and at the very least the core of its flavors get diluted and lost in the abundance of tobacco crammed into this monster.  This cigar intrigued me enough to want to try a more traditional size like the corona.  The Torito however leaves a little to be desired.  Besides, a 60 ring gauge is just so awkward to smoke and that doesn’t help any either.  It is a decent smoke though and those that enjoy big beefy cigar will probably enjoy the Torito.

Rating – B

Some other takes on the Casa Magna:

Gran Habano 3 Siglos Robusto Tuesday, May 12 2009 

Country: Honduras
Wrapper:  Nicaraguan Shade Grown
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, and Colombian
Size:  Robusto 5.0″ x 52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Gran Habano line of cigars is made in Honduras by GR Tabacaleras Unidas which is a father and son operation of Guillermo Rico and his son George. The 3 (Tres) Siglos line was first introduced in 2006 and is reputed to be a complex, full-bodied, spicy addition to the Gran Habano family of cigars. The key aspect of this blend is the use of three different types of ligero tobacco in the filler. This cigar features ligero from Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, and Colombian tobacco. I am making the assumption that this is why the number “3” is used int he name of the cigar so it got me curios about the word “Siglos”. I never had given any thought to that word until now and I discovered that siglo is the Spanish word for century. So that makes the name of this cigar (translated by me) “three centuries”. I’m not sure if there is any significance there. The company was founded in 1995 so it certainly isn’t three hundred years old. It may not have any significance at all, or it refers to something I was not able to ascertain. Really, I guess it is all irrelevant since what is important here is this question – “Is the cigar any good?” Well, lets find out…

The shade grown wrapper on this cigar is a very nice rosado in color.  It is a little veiny with an oily sheen to it and has a neatly applied cap.  The 3 Siglos seems to be well filled and very well put together.  It sports two elegant white bands trimmed in gold leaf making for a very a handsome and elegant presentation. The smoke starts out very smooth and creamy with a hint of vanilla and very little spice on the finish. The first third of this cigar had me wondering if this really was all ligero in the filler. As I moved into the second third I was still asking myself that same question. The flavors were excellent with notes of creamy toasted nuts and a little bit of a musty earthiness, but still very little spice and none of the pepper I’d expect from a cigar with a lot of ligero. At this point I’d describe the cigar as a mildly complex and very enjoyable medium bodied smoke. It burned slow and cool. The ash was a bit flaky, dark grey and black with swirls of brown in it.Things finally began to pickup a little bit in the last third with addition of more black pepper notes and a little more robust profile.

Overall this was a really enjoyable smoke with excellent flavors.  Based on it’s makeup I was expecting it to be a fuller smoke than it turned out to be.  I think maybe the shade grown wrapper contributed to toning it down a bit.  Even though it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still a very good cigar and I recommend giving it a try.

Rating – B+

Cuba Libre Epicure Wednesday, Feb 11 2009 

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Country:  Honduras
Wrapper: Corojo
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Not Sure
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Cuba Libre is blended by Nestor Plasencia.  I am not very familiar with his blends.  I am not sure but this might be my first experience with one of his cigars.  I had a hard time finding any details on this cigar and it’s blend.  What I was able to find was inconsistent and vague.  I was able to discern that this is a Honduran made cigar and it may be a Honduran Puro, but like I said I couldn’t find much detail on the blend so I am not sure of that.

The Epicure has a severe box press.  The wrapper is leathery and rough looking and has a rumpled look near the head.  I can see a couple small stems in the filler at the head and foot.  The draw is good and a little on the loose side.  It produces lots of thick white smoke and has a basic tobacco aroma, nondescript.  The best I can describe it is that it smells like a cigar.  I know, that sounds kind of silly but it’s accurate.  The flavors are a bit plain as well.  It has a basic core of leather and earth complimented by a toasty tobacco.  It was all a bit muddled and one dimensional.  It has decent strength and body.   The finish is OK but can be a bit bitter at times, and the burn is a bit problematic going askew several times.  At about $4 a stick it is a decent value smoke.  The flavors are pleasant enough and with an attractive price point I would say this is a good cigar for out on the golf course or when working in the yard.

Rating – C

Blind Review #5 Thursday, Jan 22 2009 

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This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar. We each exchanged three unbanded cigars. The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar. The cigars were numbered randomly. I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5. Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog. The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #5

Cigar number 5 is a good looking cigar.  The wrapper is smooth and silky with very few, small veins.  The wrapper is expertly applied as is the cap.  Inspecting the clipped head and the foot revels a good looking bunch of the filler tobacco and the pre-light draw is perfect.  It has a mild earthy aroma and the wrapper is leathery, and a uniform rich brown in color. It looks to be about a 46 ring and is 5 inches long. There was a small patch on the wrapper near the head about the size of the nail on my pinky finger.  What is particularly interesting about this patch is that I almost didn’t see it even given the fact that I went over this stick with a fine tooth comb.  Because it is a blind review I paid closer than usual attention to the physical appearance of the cigar and I still almost didn’t see this patch.  It was simply the best patch job I have ever seen on a cigar.  Even with the patch this is the best looking of the three cigars.  That alone doesn’t mean it is the premium stick in the bunch, but if I had to guess just based on appearance this would be my pick.

This cigar is very smooth right from the start.  Mild to medium bodied. The flavors are balanced and delicate.  It smokes like a cigar with a little bit of age on it.  At the beginning there are notes of espresso and bakers cocoa.  It wasn’t long before this smoke started changing on me.  It developed woody/oak overtones with smooth creamy notes.  Halfway through it got more robust but was still on the mild side of medium in body and flavor.  It developed a leathery core complimented with roasted coffee beans.  It always put off thick clouds of creamy white smoke and had a wonderful room bouquet.  The finish was long, smooth, and pleasant.  The ash was well formed and firm.  Flavor and construction on this cigar was superb.  It was a complex, well balanced, delicate smoke.

After all that, I have no clue as to what this cigar was or where it came from.  I can take a wild stab and say, due to its mildness, that it is a Dominican cigar but I really don’t know.  That is just a wild gues on my part.  It was a very good smoke, not typical of the robust powerhouses I have grown most fond of, but I must say as good as this was, I could see myself enjoying this cigar more regularly. Putting together its appearance, flavor, complexity and construction I would think this is a premium top-shelf smoke.  If it isn’t then it is a heck of a value.

Check out  the review of Cigar #6 at Zen and the Art of the Cigar

So now all the reviews are done for this little project.  I have to say it has been a lot of fun up to this point but now comes the most exciting part.  Jamie and I will be hanging out tonight at our local cigar shop and we will be discussing all the cigars.  Expect a wrap-up to be posted in the next few days.

Related Posts:

Blind Review #3 Sunday, Jan 18 2009 

This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar. We each exchanged three unbanded cigars. The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar. The cigars were numbered randomly. I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5. Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog. The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #3

Cigar number 3 in this series of blind reviews is a Torpedo. I don’t have a ring gauge guide to measure it with but it looks to be about 52 to 54 ring and is 61/4 inches long. It has a leathery brown wrapper covered in small veins and a little bit of tooth. Examining the foot , it shows a nice, neatly done bunch in the filler. the same could be said for the head after I clipped it. The draw pre-light is excellent and it has a somewhat nondescript aroma.

Putting the foot to flame the first few draws deliver a blast of black pepper and a rich earthiness. After I worked my way past that first inch or so of black pepper there was a core of coffee and earth. I don’t want to hazard a guess this early in the smoke but I have to say that the start of this cigar is very “Pepinesque” and if it isn’t one of his there is almost certainly have to be Nicaraguan tobacco in this cigar. There, I put myself out there a bit with that statement. I am even more anxious to find out what this cigar is now. The last third was excellent. Robust with tons of spice and earth and a nice creamy, cocoa finish. The burn was a little erratic and the ash a little flaky but this was a well made cigar packed full of tobacco. It was a very good smoke.

I am going to stand by my initial impression of this cigar. I am guessing it is a Don Pepin made smoke and if not one of his, it had a very Nicaraguan flavor to it. I even go as far as to say it was very much like a Cubao I had recently. I hope I’m not too far off and end up embarrassing myself.

Be sure to check out the review of Cigar #4 over at Zen and the Art of the Cigar.

Related Posts:

Blind Review #1 Wednesday, Jan 14 2009 

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This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar.  We each exchanged three unbanded cigars.  The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar.  The cigars were numbered randomly.  I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5.  Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog.  The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #1

This cigar looks to a be a Robusto, 5″ x 50 or 52 ring gauge.  The cap is sloppily applied.  The wrapper is veiny and dry looking.  Inspection of the foot reveals several small stems.  I expected to find the same in the head after clipping it, but there were none there.  Its pre-light aroma was a nondescript tobacco.  The flavors were a bit muddled but I picked up notes of leather and tobacco and flashes of grass.  The finish was long and bitter.

Construction wise, this looks and smokes like a cheap cigar.  The burn was all over the place and I found a huge tunnel in the filler less than an inch into the smoke.  The gaping hole continued all the way down until the last 2 inches.  The ash was loose and flaky requiring that it be tapped frequently.  It was medium bodied and one dimensional. There was also a lot of sticky tar in the head.  I ran my finger across the head and strings of brown tar came off the head and stuck to my finger tip.   I really didn’t enjoy this one very much.  The construction issues make me think this was either a cheap bundle type cigar or a bum stick that slipped through someones QA department undetected.

Now I am going to take a stab at identification.  I expect to be very wrong here.  I freely admit, when you don’t know anything about a cigar it is very difficult to identify it.  I don’t think I’m that good, but I’ll give it a shot here with the wrapper at least.  I think the wrapper is Sumatran.  The cigar reminded me a bit of other Sumatran wrapped cigars I’ve tried like the Flor de Oliva.  I can hardly wait to see how far off I am…

Be sure to check out the review of Cigar #2 over at Zen and the Art of the Cigar.

Related Posts:

Bravo Colombian Gold Torpedo Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

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Country: Colombia
Wrapper: Colombian
Filler: Colombian
Size: Torpedo 6.5″ x 52 ring

The new Bravo Cigar Company has just recently introduced the first Colombian Puro.  That’s right, a cigar made with 100% Colombian tobacco, filler, binder, and wrapper.  The cigar is blended by Antonio de Jesus in Columbia.  I was intrigued when I heard about this cigar.  Colombia is of course well known for coffee but doesn’t have the tobacco heritage of places like Nicaragua and Honduras or the DR.   That is probably why Bravo Cigars relies heavily on expertise from the Dominican Republic to make these cigars employing many skilled workers from the DR.  These workers bring expertise in farming, curing, and rolling to ensure a quality, well made product.  The Colombian Gold Series is billed as “mild to medium bodied and boasts tender tobacco notes of earth, cedar and cocoa bean.”  It comes in boxes of 24 and is available in five sizes.  A Perfecto, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo and a Churchill.

The torpedo sports a beefy 52 ring gauge and a generous 6.5 inches in length.  It is wrapped in a silky, oily leaf the color of cafe au lait with tiny veins running throughout its length. Inspecting the foot and the clipped head reveals expertly bunched tobacco with no signs of stems or rib veins.  The pre light draw is excellent and delivers a mild toasted tobacco flavor.  The aroma of this Colombian puro really stands out.  It has a rich earthy tobacco bouquet that is kind of intoxicating and it boosted my hopes for this smoke.  The foot lit nicely and the initial draw produced a lot of thick white smoke with a slightly bitter bite on the tongue.  The bitterness faded away almost immediately and I noted mild flavors of toasted tobacco and a faint earthiness.  The flavors tasted a little dry initially.  The aroma of this cigar as you smoke it is hard to describe.  The word that comes to mind is decadent.  The aroma is one of the Colombian Gold’s most outstanding features.  As I worked my way into the smoke the dryness disappeared and the flavors developed a more creamy characteristic.  It is still dominated by a core of toasted tobacco and I picked up flashes of wood and earth.  About midway through it started exhibiting some youthful bitterness but thankfully it was short lived.  As the bitterness faded away there was more toasted tobacco and wood/oak all wrapped in a pleasant creaminess.  Those flavors remained consistent for the rest of the smoke.

The Bravo Gold is a good example of a flavorful mild-medium bodied cigar.  An amazing aroma is coupled with excellent flavor that remains fairly consistent from start to finish.  I think this is an excellent morning cigar that would pair nicely with a cup of coffee, or an early evening cigar before dinner.  The construction is top notch delivering a good burning cigar with an excellent draw and a light, well formed ash.  This cigar really surprised me.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a cigar made of all Colombian tobacco.  I recommend you give this unique puro a try.  I think it is a more flavorful and more interesting alternative to a Macanudo or Ashton Classic.  Check out BravoCigar.com to learn more about them.  I am going to give the rest of my sampler some more time to acclimate in my humidor and then I’ll post a review of one of the other sizes.

Rating – B+

A. Pontillo Paragon Double Corona Monday, Jun 4 2007 

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Sungrown
Filler: International Long Filler
Size: Double Corona 7.5″x52 ring

A. Pontillo is the creation of an Apex, NC man named AJ Pontillo. AJ in conjunction with the Oliva cigar family developed a blend for his own line of boutique cigars. The first blend came in a natural and a maduro wrapper. It is an excellent medium bodied smoke that gained a lot of popularity regionally in the southeast. With the building success of his first release AJ developed a strong full bodied blend. This new blend is called the Paragon.

One of the things that is immediately noticeable about all of the Pontillo cigars is the heft. These cigars are packed full of tobacco and you can feel it in the weight of the cigar. The Paragon sports a dark oily and leathery sungrown wrapper that is nicely patterned with very small veins. The pre-light aroma of this cigar lets you know you’re in for a robust smoke. It starts out very peppery, producing big clouds of thick white smoke with a heady, rich tobacco aroma. About an inch and a half in the pepper gives way as the cigar smooths out some. The predominant flavors were earth and cocoa with a pleasant leathery finish. This cigar is heavy in both weight and flavor. Not a cigar you want to try on an empty stomach. The cigar picked up a bit again towards the end bringing a return of the pepper that was prevalent in the beginning. Start to finish this was a great hour and a half smoke. The draw was perfect and the ash held firm on a nice straight burn.

AJ has an interesting business model right now. As he works to build the distribution of his cigars he is starting things off by giving market exclusivity as an incentive to the first shop to sign up for an account with him. For example, here in his home area of Raleigh, NC the only place in Wake County that you can get his cigars is at Capital City Cigars. So, if you can find A. Pontillo cigars in your area, I recommend you pick this cigar up and give it a try. It’s a great smoke.

Rating – B+

Los Blancos Maduro Robusto Saturday, Feb 24 2007 

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan w/ Honduran Binder
Size: Robusto 5.0″x52 ring
(for a detailed description of the points system I use please click here.)

I believe this is a fairly new cigar but I am not sure. It is new in the humidor of my local cigar shop anyway. The rep is always handing these out every time he comes through so I figured I’d give it a try.

Appearance and Construction – 7/10
Not a bad looking cigar with a nice presentation. It sports a bright yellow band near the head and a second band wrapped around the foot. The wrapper is applied very well, smooth with no creases. It is well filled and has a well applied cap that clipped nicely. There was one of the largest rib veins I’ve ever seen in a cigar in the head and the maduro wrapper was very dark brown and splotchy. The pre-light draw was very good with just the right amount of resistance.

Flavor – 10/20
This is mild smoke with straight forward flavors. I found it to be a bit one dimensional. Just your basic tobacco with a slight hint of chocolate and a typical maduro sweetness. The finish was woody and a little bitter. It never changed or did anything to hold my attention.

Smoking Characteristics – 6/10
A weak cigar with no real buzz factor to speak of. The burn was decent never needing any manual correction but I couldn’t call it a straight burn. The ash was dark grey and flaky and didn’t hold for very long. I needed to tap it every inch or so.

Price – 2/5
I did get this cigar for free but I believe these retail for just under $5 a stick. At that price point, this cigar lands in a pretty saturated market. There are a ton of cigars to choose from in the $4-$6 range, and many of those choices provide a more interesting and enjoyable smoke. As mild as this cigar is, at this price it may be good for a beginner but is not something a seasoned cigar smoker would enjoy.

Conclusion
This is a very mild cigar with decent construction. Like I said above, it would probably appeal to a new cigar smoker that enjoys a mild smoke and a small price tag. If you enjoy a more robust and complex smoke you definitely want to pass on this one.

The Math
25/4.5 = 5.55*10 = 55.5

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