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.

Panacea Red 560 Maduro/Habano Wednesday, Oct 20 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Seco Cubano, Ligero Piloto Cubano, Ligero Olor Dominicano, & Ligero Nicaragua
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 60 ring

The Panacea Red is the second blend from the Flatbed Cigar Company.  Billed as a bolder more full bodied blend their website tells us we can expect all the great flavors of the Panacea Black Maduro only in a fuller, stronger experience. Read about my experience with the Black Maduro here, and if you are unfamiliar with the Flatbed Cigar Company and Panacea cigars, check out my review of the Panacea Black Natural here.  The Red changes things up a bit with the introduction of a Habano binder and plenty of Ligero tobacco.  The wrapper is the same dark Brazilian Maduro that is used on the Panacea Black Maduro.  The 560 is a big beefy cigar and the guys at Flatbed decided it needed its own band that is more appropriate for a cigar of this girth, “We also gave it a different style Black Label band better suited for a big-ole cigar.”

Now it is no secret I think a 60 ring gauge is just to damn big.  I don’t like it.  I find cigars this large awkward and uncomfortable to smoke.  At 5’11” and 225 lbs (the gym is paying off, I’m smaller than I use to be, but yet), I’m not a small guy.  I just think a 60 ring is excessive.  I also have found in my own experience that cigars often lose something when they are made this big.  Flavors become muddled, the subtleties of a blend get lost in the massive amounts of filler it takes to make a cigar this large.  I also acknowledge though that there are some examples of blends that just “work” in these larger formats.  I hope the Panacea Red is one of those blends, but we’ll see.  Regardless I think I may order myself a sampler of the reds in one of the more standard sizes to see what I think of the blend regardless of what my opinion turns out to be of this particular vitola.

The Panacea Red 560 has a noticeably “light” dark brown wrapper for a Maduro, especially for a Brazilian maduro.  It has a handful of small veins running across its surface.  The draw is excellent but predictably the ring gauge is a bit awkward.  It starts off very light and almost mild but quickly bolsters.  The flavors were medium-full with a light to medium strength.  It is a very well-balanced cigar with creamy notes of toasted wood and a hint of sweetness complimented nicely by more robust flavors of earth and coffee.  The finish is medium bodied and doesn’t linger long.  The flavors stay pretty consistent from start to finish.  What it lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in just good solid flavors and a nice finish.  It did seem to pick up in strength a bit in the last third adding a bit of peppery spice to the mix.  I was surprised that this wasn’t a stronger cigar given all the ligero that is in the blend and the Habano binder.  I wonder if that was a side effect of the exaggerated ring size.  I really enjoyed this cigar and very much want to try this blend in a more traditional size like a corona or robusto.  If you are a fan of big girthy cigars than I think you’ll love this one.  It is an excellent smoke.

Panacea Black Maduro Torpedo Tuesday, Sep 28 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Olor Dominicano & Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 6.0″ x 52 ring

Panacea cigars are a product from the Flatbed Cigar Company.  I gave a rundown of the outfit recently in my review of the Panacea Black Natural that I posted recently.  Give it a read if you need or want to know more about them, or just visit their website.  The Black label line was their first, initially release with an Ecuadorian grown Connecticut Shade wrapper.  The line was quickly expanded to include a maduro wrapped version of the blend.  That is what I am smoking today.

This Panacea Black actually is a torpedo as opposed to the Natural I smoke in which I thought it was a torpedo, but in actuality it was their version of a perfecto.  The Maduro is wrapped in a dark brown, mottled maduro leaf with some fine veins running across its surface.  The Maduro wrapper doesn’t do much to bolden this blend but it does have a bit more body than the natural.  What you end up with is a very nice, creamy, mild smoke.  Notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and earth are complimented by a subtle sweetness typical of a maduro smoke.  Again, like the natural it is a fairly simple and straight forward smoke with well defined and well balanced flavors.  It is consistent from start to finish.  There is a little spice that shows up in the last third giving the smoke a bit more oomph and that made for a very nice conclusion to what was a very good smoke.  Construction was excellent with a great draw and an even burn.

I think the Panacea Black is another fine cigar from the Flatbed Cigar Company.  I enjoyed it more than most maduros I’ve smoked, but of the two versions of the Black, I think I prefer the natural.  That said, I would certainly enjoy smoking another maduro anytime.

Liga Privada No.9 Parejo Oscuro Wednesday, Sep 16 2009 

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…by Drew Estate
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Oscuro
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.0 x 52 ring

I want to start off on this review by thanking a very generous BOTL over at SocialCigar.com for giving me this cigar.  JohnLongIsland is a first class brother of the leaf and a 1st class individual as well.  John is a big supporter of my fundraising efforts for the Ride for Kids and his generosity is always very much appreciated.  He sent me a little gift a short while back that included this fine cigar.  Thanks John.

It seems to be a trend that has developed over the last year or so.  A cigar comes out and it is proclaimed as a private blend created just for the owner of the brand, or as a “personal blend” made for someone high ranking officer in the company, and now for the first time it is going to be made available to the public.  The Tatuaje Black Label is probably the highest profile example of one of these “private cigars made public”.  This one was supposedly made for Steve Saka of Drew Estate and was intended to be a strictly private stock cigar .  The “no.9” supposedly denotes that this cigar was the 9th blend in a series of prototypes made when creating this cigar.  I have no idea how or why it became available for public sale.  Truth or hype, I leave it to you to decide if you care to do so.  Truth is, it is kind of irrelevant in the end.  What matter is… Is it any good?

If nothing else, this cigar is beautiful to behold much like it’s newer brother, the soon to be release Liga Privada T52.  The wrapper has a naturally dark brown appearance with a silky, oily sheen.  It is toothy,  a little bumpy, and veiny, but the wrapper is so perfectly applied and the cigar is so handsome you cannot call it rustic.  Say what you will about Drew Estate and their reputation among cigar purists, but they make some of the most visually beautiful cigars you can buy.  Speaking of their reputation, although known primarily for flavored and infused cigars, the Liga Privada is a traditional offering from Drew Estate.  It is not flavored or infused, and it doesn’t use any non traditional tobacco like pipe tobaccos in its blend.  This is a straight-up stogie and an excellently constructed one at that.

The Liga Privada No.9 starts off smooth and rich with a nice meaty flavor.  It mellows a little once you get past the first inch or so.  At first I though this cigar was going to be a full bodied smoke, but as it turns out it isn’t quite that robust.  It is a solid medium bodied cigar that delivers nice flavors of chocolate and espresso with a little black pepper on the finish.  The construction could not be better with a perfect draw and a razor sharp burn.  The salt and pepper ash is a very well formed and holds firm for more than an inch before needing to be tapped.

Overall this is a really enjoyable smoke with some great, easily discernable flavors.  However, there isn’t much complexity here.  Once it settles in after that first inch, the cigar never really changes again so it ends up being a bit of a one dimensional smoke.  Still, what it does deliver is quite good.  I think this cigar makes for an excellent social smoke when you are looking for a tasty smoke that you may not be giving your full attention, but when you want that smoke to be  better than some yard ‘gar.

Rating – B

Some other takes:

Rocky Patel Sun Grown Toro Thursday, Jul 16 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Brazilian, Dominican, and Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.5″ x52 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Rocky Patel’s Sun Grown has been around for a while now.  It is unique in my opinion because it seems to be  universally respected among cigar smokers as a good, tasty, quality cigar.  Yet it doesn’t have any of the hype or pomp and circumstance around it that other widely respected cigars have, like the VSG or even the Oliva Serie V just as an example.  It seems to fly just below the radar, but ask someone about it and you will almost always here “That’s a great smoke, one of my favorite Rockys!”  Don’t ask about it, and you’ll probably never hear it mentioned.  That just strikes me as odd an unique.

This specimen sports a handsome looking, rustic, rosado colored wrapper.  It has a toothy, dry look to it.  Now, the RP Sun Grown Petite Corona is my hands down favorite vitola in this line.  I think is is an excellent smoke.  A robust, powerful little spice bomb.  I have enjoyed them so much over the years that it wasn’t until now that I have ever bothered to try another vitola, but this time I am smoking a toro.  It starts off with a bit of black pepper and a spiciness that is reminiscent of the Petite Corona only not quite as sharp or robust.  The flavors seem to be muted or muddled in the translation to the large ring gauge.  I get hints of the coffee, earth, and spice that I love in the Petite Corona, only they are faint and muddy and not as pronounced.  I was a bit disappointed with this one.  It seems to me the blend does much better in a smaller format.  Still it was an enjoyable cigar even though it didn’t live up to the standard set by its little brother.

Rating – B

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