Redux: Tatuaje Monster Series “The Frank” Friday, Apr 22 2011 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Sungrown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Double Corona 75/8″ x 49 ring

I read on a discussion board somewhere that someone was saying hurry up and smoke The Frank because it has peaked and is in the decline.  I thought, OK lets smoke one and see how they are doing.  I still have the better half of my box left.  I’m glad I picked the box I did because my Franks are certainly not in a decline.  They are smoking wonderfully.  True they have lost a bit of their oomph, and a little bit of the spice they had when they were newborns but these dark double coronas still have plenty to offer me.  They still start off with a blast of pepper but perhaps not the full on punch in the palate that it once was.  It also still has plenty of the “sun grown twang” that I love from sun grown broadleaf wrappers.  The black pepper and spices are much more subtle now and the coffee and cocoa flavors are more prevelant and I was occasionally getting an nutty, almost almond like flavor from it from time to time.

I can’t say if these cigars will decline, maintain, or improve as time goes on.  I just don’t know.  I do know that right now they are fantastic.  I think they are even better now than they were when they first came out.  That is saying something because they were fantastic fresh.  So given this most recent experience with a nicely aged version of The Frank,  I am not sure how much longer these will last in my humidor so I probably won’t have to worry about how they will continue to age.  They probably won’t have an opportunity to do so for much longer. Perhaps then, the discussion board warning still has had its intended effect, to get me to smoke my Franks…

5th Anniversary Review: Cohiba Robusto Reserva (2003) Wednesday, Jun 23 2010 

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Country: Cuba

Today my humble little blog turns a whopping 5 years old. In internet years that is old. Sites on the internet come and go like leaves in the wind and it seems to be especially true of cigar related blogs. Considering that, I am rather proud of my little corner of the internet and how long it has managed to hang on, or more accurately perhaps; how long I have managed to hang on and stay committed to keeping this thing going. So today I celebrate 5 years of cigar reviews and mediocre writing with a very special smoke that my readers helped me to pick. During the first half of June I posted a poll asking my readers to help me decide which cigar I should review to mark this special milestone. There were 5 stellar cigars to choose from and in the end the Tatuaje Reserva SW Maduro was just barely edged out by an equally special Cohiba Robusto Reserva from 2003. So here we go, to celebrate Matt’s Cigar Journal’s 5 Year Anniversary, I give you the Cohiba Robusto Reserva…

In 2003 Habanos, SA release a special edition box of Cohiba cigars.  It was the Cohiba Selección Reserva and it contained 30 cigars in an assortment of sizes including six robusto sized cigars.  To see photos and get all the vital statistic of the cigars that came in this box check out the Cuban Cigar Website by clicking here.  I find it a very useful reference for information on Cuban cigars.  My sample was very generously given to me by Brother of the Leaf who happened to own a bar in Denmark.  I had always hoped to make it over there and check out his bar and smoke a cigar with him but as it happens we have lost touch and I am not sure where he is anymore.  I have been saving this very special cigar for a special occasion and I am happy to be finally putting it to flame in celebration of 5 years of blogging about my passion for fine hand made cigars.

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This Cohiba has a very classic looking wrapper like light brown leather.  It is adorned with a normal Cohiba band and a second black and gold band displaying the Reserva designation.  The draw is absolutely perfect.  I used Gordon Mott’s  “Three Match Technique” to get the cigar lit.  Right from the very start this cigar is smooth and buttery.  There were creamy notes of vanilla and hint of citrus with a nice floral aroma.  It wasn’t long before it starts to change up.  The flavors became woody and leathery with a bit of spice and I started to get a bit of salt and pepper on the lips.  The aroma is still very floral.  Underneath it all is that classic Cuban earthiness and twang.  Half way through and this is already one of the most amazing cigars I have smoked.  There are flavors I can’t even figure out how to identify.  As I made my way through the smoke the cigar kept changing.  there were flavors of coffee, nuts, vanilla, honey, fruit, leather, and more.   There was lots of that Cuban earthiness mixed in as well and the cigar went from sweet to spicy and back to sweet, the flavors always smooth and creamy on the palate.  The flavors were full and rich but never overpowering and it had only a mild nicotine punch.  The cigar was an absolute joy to smoke from start to finish.  I can’t imagine a better choice of cigar to celebrate my blogs 5 Year Anniversary.

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.

Box Purchase: Tatuaje Black Tubos Saturday, Dec 12 2009 

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The much anticipated Tatuaje Tubos cigars hit the shelves this week.  The Tatuaje Blacks are a favorite of mine so I picked up a box of them and grabbed 2 of the Red Tubed Havana VI Verocus as well.  The presentation of these cigars is beautiful.  The boxes are huge (it didn’t fit in my converted wine fridge humidor)and the tubes are beautiful.  I am going to give these a few months to acclimate to my humidor and them I’ll be firing a couple of these up for some reviews.

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Here is one of each cigar outside the tubes.

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Showdown: Tatuaje Reserva Noellas – 2006 vs 2009 Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

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Country: USA
2006 Wrapper: Aged Nicaraguan Corojo Ligero (Cojonu Wrapper)
2009 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder (both): Nicaraguan
Filler (both): Nicaraguan
Size: Corona 51/8” x 42 ring

2009 has seen an exciting expansion to the Tatuaje brand with lots of new cigars including some new additions to the Reserva line of the Brown Label Tatuajes.  Pete Johnson’s seemingly ever broadening use of the sun grown broadleaf wrapper found its way onto two new Tatuaje Reserva cigars.  The Reserva Regios and the Reserva Noellas.  The new Reserva Noellas are particularly intriguing to me because this is not the first time there has been a Reserva Noella.  Back in 2006 Tatuaje offered to a number of its best accounts boxes of  Noellas cigars with a Reserva label on the box.  This label was applied just as it has always been on the boxes other Reserva cigars like the J21 and SW.  There were only about 200 boxes made.  The cigar is the same size as the standard Noellas but it has a different wrapper.  Instead of the standard Corojo wrapper that is used on the regular Noellas, these cigars are wrapped in an aged oscuro ligero wrapper just like what is used on the Cojonu line of Tatuajes and the Reserva J21.  Unlike other Reserva cigars this incarnation of the Reserva Noellas did not sport the second black and gold Reserva band.  They only had the normal brown Tatuaje band on them.  The only way to know it was a Reserva is to have seen the box it came from, or if you put it side by side with one of the regular Noellas you would see that the wrapper is much darker in color (note: I have found this to be truer of older Noellas which seem to have gotten darker in more recent vintages).  The 2006 Reserva Noella was tagged with a nick name, often referred to as a Noella Oscuro in online forums and websites.  After that initial run in 2006, Tatuaje never made this cigar again.  That is still true today even though we once again have a cigar bearing the Reserva Noellas name…

Here we are in 2009 and we once again have the Reserva Noellas available at many Tatuaje retailers.  But this 2009 edition is not the same cigar that was made back in 2006.  It is still the same size and same blend, but the wrapper has changed again.  The 2009 edition sports a sun grown broadleaf wrapper just like the Tatuaje Monster Series released last October.  It also wears the black and gold Reserva band unlike its predecessor and this one, while somewhat limited, is not restricted to just a one time run of 200 boxes.    I believe that this cigar is meant to be a mainstay in the Reserva line.  It along with its cousin the Reserva Regios have been nick named by some as “little monsters” because they share a very similar makeup to “The Frank” with their broadleaf wrappers around the original blends for those vitolas.

I thought it would be fun, since I happen to have a few of those old Reserva Noellas from 2006 in my humidor, to go ahead and do a side by side comparison of the two different cigars which bear this name.  I started with the 2006 edition… (more…)

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Roi Tuesday, Feb 17 2009 

Country: Cuba
Box Code: SUA JUN2000
Size: Corona 5.54″ x 42 ring

This cigar has a classic Cuban appearance and comes in a traditional presentation. Unbanded in a cedar cabinet of 25 cigars, the wrapper is light brown and silky looking with a few puckered veins running across its surface. It has a triple cap and once I clipped it I could see an expertly done bunching of the tobacco that mirrored what I saw in the foot. I was concerned that the draw might be a little tight and I was right but it was still manageable. I have found many of the Cuban cigars I have smoked to be  excellent smokes, but only after they have been aged properly do the begin to truly shine. With eight and a half years under its belt this cigar demonstrated why many cigar lovers consider Cuban cigars to be the best in the world.

The Le Hoyo du Roi starts off smooth and creamy with pronounced flavors of cafe au lait and wood. There are hints of black pepper and that Cuban earthiness that we all crave from a Habano. The pepper notes are subtle. It’s like the cigar wants you to know its there but it doesn’t want to overwhelm your palate, allowing you to enjoy all the subtitles it has to offer. The aroma is rich and decadent and the flavors have a chewiness to them that is simply fantastic. The smoke started off almost mild but continued to pickup as I progressed becoming a medium to almost full bodied smoke. It developed more spice but maintained its creamy/chewy characteristics. There were several flavors I picked up along the way that I couldn’t identify, subtle notes that weaved in and out making for an engaging and very enjoyable smoke. I am convinced that smoking a Habano while it’s young is such a waste. I have had the pleasure of a few aged Habanos over the years and they are always amazing smoking experiences and this cigar was no exception. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that the draw was just a bit too tight. I wish it were a bit looser making it a bit easier to smoke. The draw made me work a bit harder than I want to. I think that this was due to the fact that the cigar seemed over humidified.   It was too wet, so I hope some time in my cabinet at 62% to 65% RH will help the draw issue.

This du Roi was very reminiscent of a 1999 Hoyo du Prince I smoked last year which I’d rank as one of the best cigars I ever smoked. The 2000 du Roi ranks pretty high on my list as well now.  I feel like I have handed out more A+ ratings than usual lately but looking back over it, I have had the pleasure of some really stellar smokes recently.  There is just no way, even with the draw issue that I can score this any lower.  Everything else about this cigar was perfect and the flavors were out of this world.

Rating – A+

Tatuaje (Black Label) Private Reserve Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

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Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona Gorda 55/8” x 46 ring
*My 100th Cigar Review*

The mystical, almost mythical Tatuaje Private Reserve, or as it is more commonly referred to the Tatuaje Black Label. Arguably the most sought after cigar of 2008, this cigar was originally made as Pete Johnson’s private cigar. It just seemed natural to me (after much internal debate) that I mark my 100th cigar review here at Matt’s Cigar Journal with a review of a rare and highly coveted Tatuaje.   After all, it is my favorite brand of cigar, and I did obsess and dream of the Black Label and it’s beautiful Jar for 6 months before I finally got my hands on it.   By the way, you all were very helpful in assisting me with my decision on what cigar to smoke for my 100th review, as evident from the poll results.   So here it is, my 100th cigar review… The Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve.

The Black Label was rumored to be available only if you met Pete Johnson and he gave you one. When the announcement that the Black Label would be sold to the public in a limited release, packaged in a collectible ceramic jar, the frenzy began. First we were given a teaser, a little taste of what was to come. Many of the Tatuaje vendors received one or two cabinets of 24 Black Label cigars. These were quickly sold off and they served to heighten the anticipation of the release of the Jar. Finally in early 2008 the Jar hit the shelves and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to purchase one. It comes with 19 of the cigars inside, secured with a yellow ribbon and then wrapped in foil. The Jar is a work of art. Just click here to see photos of my jar from just about every conceivable angle. Yeah, I was/am a little obsessed with the Jar. The Black Labels are still hard to find, but not impossible if you search hard enough. They are even available in a second size now. Black Label Robustos can be purchased in packs of three if you attend a Tatuaje event.

It is immediately apparent that this cigar was not designed to be “pretty”.  It was made to look tough.  The wrapper is rustic and bumpy, spider-webbed with small veins.  The color is a dark mottled brown.  It has a rough fuma style head that comes to a slight nipple and the foot is closed with a shaggy bit of wrapper covering it up.    And then there is the band.  Simple, black, classic.  It just adds to the toughness of this cigar.  It’s overall appearance seems to compliment the look of its creator, Tattoo Pete.    The Black Label may look a little rough around the edges, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is anything less than a top shelf cigar.  It is very well put together.  It burned straight with a firm ash that just did not want to fall off.  The draw was perfect as was most everything about this cigar. Putting the foot to flame you a hit with an initial burst of black pepper that quickly subsides.  Initially the flavors were mild spice and leather with a subtle sweetness on the lips.  This cigar is constantly changing as you smoke it.  I picked up notes of  ginger, oak, earth, nuts, cocoa and an occasional flash of hay early on… all weaving in and out around a spicy, leathery core. It was a medium to full bodied smoke with a rich tobacco aroma boasting some decent strength, but it isn’t a cigar that will knock you down.  The dichotomy of the cigar is amusing.  It looks rough and rustic but it smokes like a refined and elegant cigar, rich and complex.  The cigar was always changing, always doing something that demanded my undivided attention.

This was the third Black Label I have smoked and each one has been better than the last.  I can definitely say this cigar is a favorite of mine and it probably deserves a spot in my Top 5 the next time I update that list.

Rating – A+

Tatuaje “The Frank” Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

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Country: USA
Wrapper: Sun-Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Double Corona 75/8″ x 49 ring

Plucked from its blood splattered coffin, it is time to put this green banded monster to flame. OK, the truth is I couldn’t bring myself to break into the coffin yet so this one is an extra single I picked up but it came from a coffin too, just not mine.  The Frank is a special ultra-limited release from Pete Johnson and his Tatuaje brand.  Using the blend for the Tatuaje Taino, the corojo wrapper is replaced with a sun-grown broadfleaf wrapper and in place of the brown band is a ghoulish green band adorned with the Tatuaje name and trademark flor de lys.  They were released as a first in a series of 13 special Halloween cigars from Tatuaje.  Only 666 boxes were made and they were release to just 13 retailers selected by lottery throughout the States.  In the coffin shaped box are 13 monstrous cigars.  I was lucky enough to have my local cigar shop, Empire Cigars, selected as one of the 13 retailers to get The Frank.  What makes me even luckier is that I was able to get myself a box of these rare and special treats.  Since Empire was one of the 13 to get The Frank, they will not be eligible for next years release which will be “The Drac”.  The Drac is reported to be a torpedo that is banded at the foot and placed into their coffins upside down just like the way Dracula was reported to like sleeping in his coffin.  We’ll have to wait and see how lucky I am next year at trying to get my hands of a box of those.  For now, it is time to get back to The Frank… (more…)

Bolivar Belicoso Fino Friday, Jul 11 2008 

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Country: Cuba
Year: Unknown

This cigar was given to me as a Christmas gift from a very generous friend of mine in Denmark. Bolivar is one of the more famous Cuban marcas and the Belicoso Fino one of its most popular sizes. I enjoyed this smoke while on vacation at the beach this week. It was a beautiful coastal Carolina evening as I sat on the screened in porch at my families condo. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every aspect of this special cigar so I paired it with a cool bottle of water. Bolivars are among the strongest cigars the Island puts out. Here is a little blurb about the marca from Habanos, SA.

Simon Bolívar was one of the great historic figures of the 19th Century who liberated much of South America from Spanish rule.

The Bolívar brand was created in 1902 and is based today at the Partagas factory in the heart of Havana.

It is perhaps not surprising that a Habano named after such a powerful figure is blended to match his might. Bolívar is among the strongest, most full bodied of all Habanos. It boasts an unrivalled richness of flavour in its blend of Vuelta Abajo region tobaccos that makes it one of the most sought-after marques amongst experienced smokers.

The Bolivar Belicoso Fino is a handsome looking cigar. Wrapped in a light brown, leathery leaf it has some small veins running across the surface along with a slightly larger puckered vein that seems to be a trademark of a Cuban wrapper. The cigar is firm its entire length and has a nice heft to it. It seems to be packed full of tobacco. The cigar has a musty barnyard aroma. After clipping the head, a pre-light draw delivers a leathery flavor to the palate. The draw is excellent providing just the right amount of resistance.

The BBF, starts of a little mild and easy going, unusual for a Cuban Bolivar. It is woody with subtle notes of what I will call spiced fruit. I had a hard time coming up with a descriptor for the flavor and I’m not sure I have it right but that’s the best I could come up with. About half way through it begins to pack a bit of a punch. It is full bodied and robust. The woodiness takes on a distinct cedar flavor with a slightly sweet undertone to it. I picked up flashes of fruit and pepper as I made my way into the last third of the smoke. The finale continues to be a full and robust smoke with lots of earth and wood, and a strong spice on the finish. The Cuban “twang” that is often associated with cigars from the island was present throughout the smoke.

Although a full bodied cigar, the BBF is not as full or strong as other Bolivars I have tried. I think that this vitola is an excellent introduction to the marca for a smoker new to Cuban Bolivars. It is a wonderfully complex smoke with refined, well defined flavors. It is a good cigar for a special occasion, or any occasion.

Rating – A

The Cigar Spy recently smoked one of these.  Checkout his take on the Bolivar Belicoso Fino.

A Special Night Saturday, Jun 7 2008 

Last night I attended an event at a local cigar shop. They were featuring the new Nub cigars. Jose Oliva was at the event with Sam Leccia. I took advantage of meeting Jose Oliva and brought my original Oliva Master Blends cigar box with me to have him sign it. The original Master Blends is my all time favorite Oliva cigar. Jose was a really nice guy and it was awesome to have a chance to meet an icon of the industry. You can check out my post which has pictures from back when I purchased the box.

Here is a picture of the signed box sans cigars…

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(click to enlarge)

Purchase: Tatuaje Black Ceramic Jar Wednesday, May 28 2008 

So here it is at long last. I have been obsessing over this thing for months now and I finally have it. The jar is beautiful and of course having already smoked the cigar before, the cigars will be a joy to smoke. I could clumsily try to describe it in words but instead I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Each can be clicked for a large version or click the picture above for a slide show.

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Oh my…

A couple notes about the above pictures. The Blacks have been in production for a while. They are not new cigars. They were up until this point Pete Johnson’s private line of Tatuajes made exclusively for him, and why not, he owns the brand after all. That is why you see the name Private Reserve in some of the pictures above. The bottom of the jar has Pete’s signature on it. The fourth picture down in the first column is the inside of the jar lid. I have to say this jar has lived up to the hype. It is one of the most beautiful presentations I have ever seen for cigars. It is truly special and I am one happy cigar smoker today.

Related Posts:

Ashton San Cristobal Supremo Monday, May 19 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring

I have been looking forward to trying this new smoke from Ashton for a while so when CigarsDirect.com sent me one to review I knew I wouldn’t wait long to put it to flame. Still it wasn’t the easiest choice considering the amazing quality of smokes they sent me in the latest batch.

Bearing the name of the famed Cuban marca, the San Cristobal is made for Ashton by my favorite cigar maker Jose “Pepin” Garcia who also makes my favorite brand of cigars, the Tatuajes. By now everyone who smokes cigars is aware that Pepin is the hottest name in cigars right now. His portfolio has grown exponentially yet it seems everything he puts out is made of gold. As highly anticipated as the release of the ESG, the San Cristobal was 2 years in the making.

Released last year shortly after the RTDA (now called IPCPRA), it sports Pepin’s wrapper of choice. It is a leathery, dark brown Nicaraguan Corojo. The Supremo is a Toro and the 50 ring gauge is the perfect size for my new favorite cut, the butterfly cut. The butterfly cut was created by a friend of mine. It is a double V-cut. After making the initial V-cut you rotate the cigar and make a second V-cut perpendicular to the first. I really like this style of cut on larger ring gauges. This cut draws very nicely and it looks cool. Everything about this cigar says “top-shelf”. The wrapper is flawless and there is no sign of any rib veins in the head or foot. The bunching looks perfect and you can tell by the firmness and heft that it is packed full of tobacco. The band is beautiful with the vibrant colors of the Macaw and elegant gold trim on a background of an ancient map.

This amazing cigar is very different from any other Pepin cigar I have tried to date. It starts off so smooth and silky. Right off the bat it is very full flavored, woodsy with leather and spice, and nutty undertones. Notably absent is the trademark “Pepin Pepper” but it isn’t missed at all. This cigar is amazingly complex with a smooth finish. I read on CI’s site some tasting notes that referenced cherry flavors. I have never tasted anything like cherry in a cigar, so I was really surprised when at about the mid way point I detected flashes of cherry. It was amazing and truly unique. I found myself disappointed (in a good way) when those flavors faded as I got a little further into the smoke. I really wished that the cherry flavors hung around longer than they did. Towards the end, the leather and spice began to build to dominate the flavors with a woody finish.

This was an amazing cigar that engaged me from start to finish. The construction is impeccable and the burn razor sharp. The ash was a little loose and flaky which was surprising but didn’t detract from the experience. The San Cristobal has earned a spot on my list of favorites. This cigar is an absolute must try for any serious cigar smoker.

Rating – A+

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduro Tuesday, May 6 2008 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Dominican
Size: Perfecto 6.0″ x 47 ring

As if the Cameroon wrapped Hemingway cigars weren’t special enough, The Cigar Family makes an extra special, aged, limited release of the Hemingways with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. Like the Anejos, the Hemingway Maduros are usually released around the holidays as a special treat for the fans and customers of Arturo Fuente cigars. I gave some more background on the Hemingway line of cigars in my review of the Hemingway Best Seller so click on over and check that out while you’re here.

The Signature Maduro has a oily, dark, toothy wrapper that is simply gorgeous. It has the look of old, well worn leather. Like all the Hemingway’s the foot tapers down to a slightly odd looking nipple. The Hemingway and Hemingway maduro provide an excellent example of how much a wrapper can affect the flavor of a cigar. The maduro is a completely different and unique experience compared to its Cameroon wrapped sibling. The Cameroon version provides a classic Cameroon flavor with a sweet spice. The Signature Maduro starts off with flavors of cedar and a slight sweetness typical of a maduro wrapped cigar with flashes of black tea. As the smoke develops it gets very creamy and mellow. In the last third it starts to exhibit black pepper with a unique earthiness that I find hard to describe. It makes me think of wet earth, almost like I am tasting the rich damp soil the tobacco was grown in.

The construction, as is always the case with any Hemingway was superb. The burn was razor sharp and the as was grey and rough looking but held firm. It produces thick clouds of white smoke with a rich aroma. There is just nothing bad to say about this cigar. It is a wonderful experience from start to end and as good as the Cammie version of this cigar is, it pales in comparison to the complex experience that the maduro delivers. The Signature Maduro and the Work of Art Maduro are by far my favorites of the Hemingway line. If you have never had one, you simply must find one and try it. I usually don’t give maduros this much love, but this is a superb cigar.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: Arturo Fuente hemingway Signature Maduro

Rating – A

Happy Birthday to Me! Tuesday, Apr 29 2008 

Had a great Birthday today. My wife got me an Oasis XL Plus for my winecoolerdor and I finished off the day in style. Smoked a 2005 RASS and paired it with a glass of Remy Martin VSOP. I am amazed how every year these cigars get better and better. With 3 years on the beautiful Robustos, their youthful edge is completely gone allowing a lot of subtle flavors to come through. It is one of the most engaging smokes I have ever had. It started off with a slight sweetness and a very unique twang that I can’t put words to but was just great. As it progressed it kept changing, it was almost hard to keep up with it. I hadn’t planned on doing a writeup on it so I wasn’t taking notes, but it was such a great experience I felt compelled to write something to help me remember the occasion. Leathery, earthy, nutty and creamy… Just amazing.

Matt’s Top 5

Tatuaje Havana Cazadores Sunday, Apr 27 2008 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Long Filler
Size: Lonsdale 63/8 x 43 ring

The Tatuaje Havana Cazadores come in cedar cabinets of 25 and are packaged in the old Cuban style. They are packed wet and wrapped in foil with a yellow ribbon around the bundle. Here’s some pictures I took back when I bought them. You can click the pictures for an enlarged view.

This vitola is reported to be Pete Johnson’s vitola of choice and it also happens to be one of my favorites as well. I love Lonsdales. I think it is just possibly the best size for a cigar. When used with a good blend of tobaccos, the ring gauge and length lends itself to a wonderfully complex smoke with a near perfect duration, about an hour to 75 minutes. I have a hard time picking between this cigar and the Reserva SW as my favorite of the Brown Label line. When pressed I usually end up giving a slight edge to the Reserva SW only because I find it a little more complex.

Like almost all of the Tatuajes, it starts off with a full blast of pepper. Once you work your way into the smoke a bit, the pepper calms down a little. I find this stick to be the most “cubanesqe” of all the Tatuajes. It is a heavy, full bodied smoke with some serious strength. They are hard to take on an empty stomach. The smoke progresses nicely, first with black coffee flavors transitioning into a rich nutty/earthiness with brief flashes of cocoa. It picks up a lot near the end getting spicy and peppery again with notes of wood. It has black pepper on the finish throughout the smoke.

The burn goes crooked every once and while but if you’re paying attention, you can get it to correct itself. The draw is perfect and the ash is well formed. The thick white clouds of smoke produce a room bouquet is very reminiscent of that of a Cuban Montecristo. Tatuajes produce amazing aromas and this one may have the best aroma of all of them.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Tatuajes and the Havana Cazadores are no exception. This is an exceptional cigar that I could be happy smoking everyday. I plan to make sure I never run out of these gems.

Rating – A
Matt’s Top 5

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