El Triunfador Lancero (original release) Monday, Dec 20 2010 

320x240
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 38 ring

This is a rustic looking lancero. It has a very dark brown wrapper that is veiny and oily. The cigar is bumpy looking and topped off with a small pigtail cap. The draw is excellent for a Lancero. Don Pepin has some skilled rollers because he seems to put out a consistently good lancero no matter what line of cigars it is a part of. I saw online somewhere that this version of the El Triunfador is basically a Cabaiguan Maduro. I don’t know about the accuracy of that assertion, but I can tell you this is a darn good smoke. It packs a nice punch even after spending about 2 years in my humidor. It is a smooth smoke with strong flavors of wood and earth. It mellows a bit in the middle becoming predominately earthy with a bit of a coffee flavor in the background. The last third or so picks up again with lots of wood, earth, spice, and a subtle bit of licorice on the finish. I only have one more of these excellent cigars left. I’ll need to pick up a couple of the more recent vintage and see if they can live up to their forefather.

Advertisements

Cohiba Coronas Especiales Thursday, Dec 16 2010 

320x240

Country: Cuba
Size: Panetela 6.0″ x 38 ring

This was a gift I received a few years ago from one of the best BOTL’s on the planet.  AndyMiami is one of the most genuinely generous people on the planet.  He’s a good cook to boot.  Just check out his blog Andy’s Diner and you’ll see what I mean.  Just a friendly warning, don’t look at it while you’re hungry. I decided I have held onto this stick long enough and it is time to enjoy it with a nice glass of Zaya Rum to sip on.  Andy sent me this back in January of 2007 so this stick is at least 4 years old at this point so I figure it is probably ready.

The cigar is beautiful.  Cohiba’s seem to have a unique shade of light brown that no other cigar seems to duplicate.  It is topped with a small pig tail and dressed in the Cohiba band, it looks the part of an elegant and expensive cigar.    After clipping off the pigtail I took a test draw and predictably it was a little tight.  I find a tight draw to be very common with Cuban cigars.  It is annoying to me really, but this one wasn’t so bad as to cause me any issue.  It starts off better than any cigar I can think of.   Right off the bat the flavors are smooth and creamy with slightly sweet notes of vanilla and honey perfectly balanced with subtle brine and that classic Cuban twang.  During the course of the smoke I also picked up on coffee notes, as well as toasted bread and some occasional burst of pepper near the end.  The last third of the smoke was very robust and the strength of the cigar just continued to build and by the end it was quite a strong smoke.  The cigar was very complex and I enjoyed the way it built up in strength and body, starting out with creamy somewhat mild flavors and gradually transitioning into the more robust and earthy flavors near the end.  This cigar was a real treat.  Thanks Andy.  You ‘da man.

Panacea Green Robusto Monday, Nov 8 2010 

320x240
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Triple Ligero Blend(Piloto Cubano, Olor Dominicano, and Nicaragua)
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 50 Ring

I have been working my way through a sampler of cigars sent to me by Paul Bush of the Flatbed Cigar Company that contained each of their four Panacea cigars. I chose to try them in the order that they were released since the inception of the company and the brand. I started out with the mild and delicious Panacea Black Connecticut, followed that up with it’s brother the Panacea Black Maduro, and then smoked the large and robust Panacea Red 560. So now I come to the last cigar in the sampler. The Panacea Green is the blend I have been looking most forward to. It is the newest edition to the Panacea brand. According to their website they worked on this blend for over a year before it finally debuted in February of this year.

The Panacea Green is a three ligero blend covered in a mottled brown Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper that has a nice oily sheen.  The band is a bright leprechaun green.  To be honest, it is not the prettiest of bands which detracts a bit from the aesthetics of the good looking wrapper leaf.  The cigar was firm and well filled and a test of the draw before lighting reveal a nice even pull.  From the very first puff on this cigar I was impressed and intrigued.  It has a wonderful spice to it that is very well balanced with notes of toasted tobacco and leather and a robust earthy finish.  he construction was impeccable.  The burn was nice and even and the ash seemed to hold on forever.  I only tapped the ash on this smoke 3 maybe four times and only for my comfort.  It seemed like it would have held longer than I was leaving it.   The flavors seemed to build in intensity as I progressed through the smoke.  There were notes of wood, leather, caramel, and tobacco.  In addition there was always that fantastic, unique spice that captivated me at the very start.  I cannot say for sure, but I am attributing it to the wrapper.  I wish I could be a better job at describing it.  Whatever that spice was and however it might be described, I really enjoyed it and the cigar as a whole.  I found it to be an excellent cigar, and one that I certainly want to smoke again.

Panacea Red 560 Maduro/Habano Wednesday, Oct 20 2010 

320x240

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 

Photobucket

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.

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.

Panacea Black Natural Perfecto Wednesday, Sep 15 2010 

Photobucket

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian CT
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Olor Dominicano & Nicaraguan
Size: Perfecto 6.0″ x 51 ring

I was recently contacted by a gentleman named Paul Bush, owner of the Flatbed Cigar Company.  He asked if I had heard of and/or tried any of his cigars.  He also asked if I’d be interested in trying them if I hadn’t.  Informed Paul that while I had indeed heard of his cigars, I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of trying any of them.  He generously offered to remedy that and he sent me a sampler of his cigars.

The Flatbed Cigar Company is based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and they make Panacea Cigars.  There are currently three lines of Panacea cigars.  The names are simple and direct and make it easy to know which cigars are which.  They are simply named after the color of their bands.  There is the Panacea Black which comes in a shade grown and maduro variety.  The Panacea Red is a bolder blend which sports a Maduro wrapper around a Dominican grown Habano binder.  Last but not least is the Flatbed Cigar Companies signature cigar, the Panacea Green which is finished off with a one of a kind Pennsylvania grown broadleaf wrapper.  I will be reviewing each of these cigars in the coming weekes so there will be plenty of details to follow on each of these.  Their very first cigar to market however was the Panacea Black Natural so I will be starting with this cigar first.  Before we get into the smoke, here is just a bit more on the company behind it.

I won’t be able to tell their story better than they can so I recommend checking out their website to learn all about them.  Just click here to read the story on how the Flatbed Cigar Company got started and what they are about.  I will give you the highlights here though.  They got started in 2007 with the Panacea Black.  The company was founded on the philosophy that they would focus on a few really good blends and use the best tobacco they could.  No gimmicks, no tricks, no fancy packaging.  Just good cigars made with good tobacco that hasn’t been messed with.  The cigars are made in the Dominican Republic, and Paul started off selling them out of the trunk of his car driving all over the northeast and mid-Atlantic building his client base.  Pennsylvania has a rich tradition in the cigar industry the Flatbed Cigar Company pays homage to that history with their Pennsylvanian grown wrapper that they use on the Panacea Green Label cigars.  The Green Label was a project that was a long time in the making that marries their heritage with their product.

As I mentioned earlier the Panacea Black was the Flatbed Cigar Companies very first cigar to market.  It is a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco wrapped in a dusky Ecuadorian grown, Connecticut Shade wrapper. This perfecto is very unique.  I originally mistook it for a torpedo with an unusual tapered foot.   I recently realized my mistake and updated this post.  It isn’t your typical perfecto because the taper is only at the head and foot of the stogie.  The body of the stick is straight like a standard parejo vitola.  It’s shape is unique and unusual which makes it interesting to me.  The cigar has an aroma of hay and tobacco and the draw seems to be just right.

This mild smoke starts off very nicely with creamy flavors like butter and nuts as well as some paper and hay notes.  All very typical of a a Connecticut shade wrapped cigar.  Not typical was the complete lack of harshness or youth.  The flavors while mild were well-defined and balanced.  It is consistent from start to finish.  Near the center there was the addition of some earthiness, and a bit of a barnyard? (hay and earth) aroma and in the last third there was some spice and black pepper that joined the party.  The burn, while not razor-sharp, was always even and demanded no attention from me which is the way I like it.  They claim to have the best rollers making their cigars and my sample lived up to that claim.  It was very well made.

I admit I have a soft spot for small boutique cigar brands, so I also have to confess that I really wanted to like this cigar going in.  I had concerns, because in my opinion there are a lot of sub par Connecticut Shade cigars out there and not many that I find to be good.  I had no idea what to expect from the Panacea but was very pleasantly surprised by it.  I found it be a very tasty, very well made, mild smoke that was really excellent from start to finish.  It would be a great morning smoke with a cup of coffee or even serve as a nice easy going mid-day smoke.  This one has me really looking forward to trying the other Panacea samples I have waiting for me.  If you’d like to give them a try, you can either look for a shop local to you that carries these cigars or order them direct online from the Flatbed Cigar Company.

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

320x240

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 

320x240

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 

320x240

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 

320x240

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.

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

320x240

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.

320x240

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.

CAO La Traviata Intrépido Saturday, Jun 19 2010 

320x240

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.

Tatuaje Verocu Tubos Monday, Jun 14 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 61/8″ x 52 ring
Photobucket

The Verocu extension of the Tatuaje Havana VI line was first introduced as a two vitola regional release. There was the West Coast version, the No. 1 Lado Occidental, and the East Coast’s No. 2 Zona del Este. Each was sold in cabinets of 50 cigars. They were a huge hit and remain a favorite of many Tatuaje fans. They were a limited release however, and much to the dismay of those fans, they are no longer made and extremely hard to find and generally unavailable. If you don’t already have some you aren’t likely to get any. But despair not, there have been subsequent releases of the Verocu blend like the No.9 which is a Holts exclusive. The most recent addition to the line is the Verocu Tubos, a tubed Torpedo measuring an ample six and one eighth inches in length and sporting a beefy 52 ring gauge. It comes armored in a very nice, bright red aluminum tube and is available in boxes of 10.

This torpedo is not a particularly pretty cigar but nor ugly or rustic either.  The wrapper is dark, mottled, and slightly veiny.  It is well filled with no soft spots and smells of cedar and leather.  The draw is a little on the loose side but not too much so.  The first draw has a predictable peppery bite to it before settling in to a spicy, earthy core with complimentary notes of cedar, leather, and tobacco which seem to come and go as I made my way through the smoke.  The last third brought lots of earth and black pepper that over powered everything else and was a bit over the top even for me but didn’t really detract much from the rest of the experience.  The Verocu Tubos is a fairly well-balanced, robust, and complex smoke with a sneaky bit of power to it.

There has been lots of talk about cracked and split wrappers with this cigar.  I didn’t have any of those problems but I did have several burn issues.  The cigar tunneled a bit at one point, then it started to canoe. It also went out on me three or four times.  These burn issues are very uncommon in my experiences with Tatuaje cigars.  Right now I am just going to chalk it all up to being a result of shipping conditions and I am hoping all that will work itself out with a few more months of rest in my humidor to acclimate and re-hydrate because the cigar did seem a touch dry to me.  Time will tell and I will probably wait another 6 months before I try another one to see where they are at.

Overall I’d say this was an excellent smoke with great body and good flavors.  If the burn issues do manage to work themselves out then I would rate this as an excellent cigar.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 Sunday, Jun 6 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Ligero
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 6.75″ x 48 ring

The Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 is part of the Cojonu extension of the Tatuje Brown Label line.  Also known as Tatuaje Miami, Tatuaje Classics, Tatuaje Cabinet series, and even more formally (and very rarely) as Tatuaje La Seleccion de Cazador.  The Cojonu extension is a series of very strong cigars that are released in a new shape every three years.  It started with the Cojonu 2003 which was a long toro, and that was followed by the Cojonu 2006; a belicoso.  So 2009 predictably brought us the next installment which happens to be a very long torpedo with a very short and rounded taper at the head.  As I have always understood it, each of these cigars is the same blend with the same binder and wrapper,  the difference with each edition being the vitola.  So it is good to note that the year on these cigars does not refer to what most cigar smokers normally associate a year with.  It doesn’t have to do with the crop, or the year it was made.  It is simply the name of the vitola.  Much like the Lonsdale in the classic Brown label line is called a Havana Cazadore, this torpedo is called 2009.  All three vitolas are regular production cigars and all three are still made and available today.

As I mentioned the Cojonu blend is much stronger in body and power than the already quite robust standard Brown Label blends.  The story goes that the name of the line, Cojonu, is a play on a slang Spanish term meaning “ballsy”.  An obvious reference to the strength of the blend.  The Cojonu wrapper is an aged ligero leaf so it had plenty of time in the sun while it was growing and the result is a very dark and very rustic looking wrapper.  The flash in my photo doesn’t do it justice as it sort of bleeds out the color making it appear a much lighter shade of brown than it appears in living color.  It is well filled, and a pre-light  test draw revealed a good but slightly lighter than expected draw.

It is commonly held that if you take what is essentially the same cigar and change the size, it changes the flavors and experience.  I subscribe to this with the following assumption.  When you change the size you are not merely changing the length but also the thickness, or ring gauge.  I think that goes to explain why, in my opinion,  there is virtually no difference at all between the Cojonu 2003 and the 2006.  Both cigars are a 52 ring but the 2003 has about an inch on the ’06 in length.  In that case there were no discernible differences in the two vitolas in my opinion.  To me, they tasted and smoked identically.  The 2009 stepped down a bit on the ring gauge to a 48 ring.  This time I noticed a difference.  A large one actually.

When a cigar gets smaller the blend has to change in some ways.  While the percentages of the different filler types used in the blend may remain consistent, the simple fact is you cannot cram the same amount of tobacco, in the same configuration into a thinner cigar.  So while you are smoking, the percentage of ligero to seco that is burning may be the same, in the thinner cigar there is simply less total ligero and less total seco burning at the same time than there is in the thicker cigar.  So it just goes to figure that there would be a difference in how the cigar tastes and behaves in general.

So how does all this come into play with the Cojonu 2009.  Well the first thing I noticed was that the 2009 is noticeably milder that it’s brothers.  That is not in any way to suggest it is a mild cigar.  It is still a full bodied smoke, but it doesn’t have the same “kick you in the head” effect that the other two seem to have.  One thing I have always been impressed with when smoking the Cojonu cigars is how smooth they are despite their ample power.  This is still true with the 2009, and the toned down power has another favorable side effect.  I believe it allows some more of the subtitles of the blend to come through.  The flavors are very similar to the previous two versions, they just come to play at different volumes now.  The peppery start is there, just less overwhelming.  The core of earth, hardwoods, and cocoa are there as well and seem to have a creamy texture to them.  The most notable change however is the cherry notes.  In the ’03 and ’06 I’d get fleeting hard to pin down flashes of cherry every once and a while as if it could only muster the strength to push past the other more robust flavors occasionally and only for a brief moment.  With the 2009, the cherry notes are less subtle and easier to detect, balancing out the less sweet core flavors very nicely.  I have smoked a couple of these cigars now and I can safely say the 2009 is my favorite Cojonu.

« Previous PageNext Page »

%d bloggers like this: