La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros Toro Monday, Feb 7 2011 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade/Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Dominican and Honduran
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring

This one is a bit gimmicky but it does exactly what it is advertised to do.  This cigar uses two wrappers, a Connecticut Shade wrapper at the foot with an abrupt transition to an Ecuadorian grown Sumatran wrapper for about the last 2/3rds of the cigar.  It starts off fairly mild with creamy coffee notes and a bit of hay and then picks up in strength and body once you hit the Sumatran wrapper where there is a bit of pepper and leather and earth with a what I thought was a slightly overbearing finish.  Maybe even a little harsh at times.  I found it to be a well made cigar.  The burn was amazingly slow.  It took a long time to smoke this Toro.  I’d rate this stogie overall as “good”.

There was something about the two wrapper setup and that transition from the mild smoke to a more medium bodied experience that I am unsure about.  I cannot put my finger on it, but it is different from the changes and nuances of a well blended and complex cigar that only uses one wrapper.  I’ve struggled with it but haven’t come up with a good explanation for my feeling on it. Still, this LGC is a decent smoke and the gimmick is legit and so it it is worth trying at least once for the experience.

Panacea Black Natural Perfecto Wednesday, Sep 15 2010 

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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.

Davidoff Special ‘R’ Tuesday, Feb 9 2010 

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

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

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

Camacho Connecticut 11/18 Thursday, Nov 19 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Ecuadorian grown Connecticut
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran and Dominican
Size: 11/18 Toro 6.0″ x 54ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

When I first heard that Davidoff was purchasing Camacho Cigars, this cigar was the first thing that popped into my head.  Davidoff and Camacho cigars had always occupied opposite ends of the spectrum.  Everything Camacho put out under the brand name Camacho was a powerhouse cigar.  All of their lines were robust, full-bodied smokes that tried to kick you in the gut.  I know that they have milder offerings under different banners like Baccarat and La Fontana, but anything labeled Camacho was going to be a monster.  SO when the announcement of the purchase became public, I immediately though to myself, “What would happen if Davidoff and Camacho got together and had a baby?”  I said to myself a Camacho with a Connecticut wrapper and Dominican tobacco in the filler.  Can you imagine!  A Camacho with that makeup?  And then a short while later we here about the Camacho Connecticut which is exactly the cigar I predicted.  Now I don’t pretend that I had any great insight or any special talent in predicting what’s next in the cigar industry.  Truth is a lot of people I have talked with had the exact same thoughts I did.  It was easy to see this coming.  SO I want to know, what exactly does a Camacho that uses a Connecticut Shade wrapper and Dominican tobacco taste like.

At the start, this cigar is a lot like its other Camacho brothers and sisters.  The first few draws are full and spicy with black pepper and a slightly acrid dry wood flavor.  It doesn’t take long to settle down.  The Ecuadorian wrapper brings what you’d expect to the party.  Creamy notes complimented by some coffee.  It is nicely balanced by a bit of Honduran spiciness from the binder and filler.  I think the Dominican tobacco kind of gets lost in the blend.  Perhaps its function is just to help tone down some of the power of the Honduran tobacco.  The result is a nicely balanced cigar with a medium bodied profile and just a touch of spice to keep it interesting.  I was pleasantly surprised by this cigar and put it up there with Oliva’s Nicaraguan Connecticut Reserve as a good slightly more robust Connecticut offering.

Rating – B+

Get your favorite Camachos @ CigarsDirect.com

Ashton Classic Corona Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Corona 5.5″ x 44 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Ashton and the Ashton Classic came on the scene back in 1994 I believe.  It is the brain child of Philly native Robert Levin.  He partnered with the Fuentes who manufacture many of the cigars that bear the Ashton name.  Known for superb quality and construction on all their lines the Classic seems to be no exception.

The Ashton Classic is dressed in a silky, creamy looking Connecticut Shade wrapper adorned by a very classic looking black and white band.  The Ashton name is emblazoned in gold across its face.  The filler looks expertly bunched, almost as if each leaf was placed in position purposefully.  It predictably had a perfect draw.  The flavors delivered by this smoke are a little mild but perfectly balanced making it a very approachable smoke for a beginner but delicious and engaging enough to satisfy even an old pro.  The first puff or two is a little harsh and grassy but it immediately settles into smooth flavors of cafe au lait and a subtle hint of vanilla. As I made my way through the smoke I picked up notes cedar and almond as well as the occasional flash of grassiness, but the creamy cafe au lait flavors remained dominate throughout.

The Ashton Classic is a very good, very well made cigar.  I enjoy these most in the AM with a cup of coffee.  Any time someone asks me what cigar they should try when they are starting out, or if someone asks me what cigar should they offer to people who aren’t “cigar smokers”  the Ashton Classic is one of the two cigars I always recommend.

Rating- B+

Other takes on the Ashton Classic:

CAO America Potomac Thursday, Apr 2 2009 

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and Connecticut Shade
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Italian, and American (100% Ligero)
Size: Robusto 5.0&quot; x 56 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The CAO America was introduced at the 2007 RTDA trade show in Huston, Texas.  Its arrival was preceded by a lot of hype and buzz brought about by two unique features of the cigar.  Number one, the wrapper caused a good deal of buzz.  The CAO America sports two wrappers, both American grown.  It has a Connecticut grown broadleaf maduro wrapper and a Connecticut shade grown wrapper.  They are applied to the cigar in a manner that creates a unique pin striping effect.  Another feature of the cigar that generated a good deal of chatter was the four country blend of 100% Ligero filler.  This was reported to be one of the strongest most full-bodied cigars in the CAO portfolio.  Available in six sizes, every one of them boasting a girthy ring gauge of 50 or above:

  • Anthem (8.5″ x 50)
  • Bottle Rocket (7.0″ x 50)
  • Constitution (6.0″ x 50)
  • Landmark (6.0″ x 60)
  • Monument (6.2″ x 54)
  • Potomac (5.0″ x 56)

It takes a lot of tobacco to fill a cigar with a 50 ring gauge, and even more for a cigar with a 56 ring.  When the filler is supposed to be 100% ligero, it is only natural that you expect that cigar to be powerful beast of a smoke.  However, the reputation of the CAO America has preceded its arrival in my humidor and I am well aware of the many reports that this cigar falls well short of the hype and apparently it is not nearly as full bodied as CAO would have us all believe.  That said, I like to judge these things for myself so I am trying to approach this smoke with an open mind…

As a loudly proclaimed lover of Lonsdales and Coronas it will come as no surprise that I am bothered by the awkwardness of the large ring gauge of the Potomac.  I feel like I have a big jawbreaker candy in my mouth when smoking it.  The flavors start off smooth.  Strong notes of Leather and damp earth dominate the beginning of the smoke.  It starts off medium in body and mild in strength with no real threat of being any fuller.  The flavors are decent though muddled at times and they never really change.  Lots of leather and earth and some occasional creamy notes.  The burn was impressive.  With the two different wrappers I expected it to run a little uneven at the least but it stayed very straight burning perfectly the whole time.  The ash was white and perfectly formed.  It holds on tight and needs to be tapped off.    Overall I’d say the CAO America is a good smoke, but not a great one.  The ring gauge is a problem for me.  I really dislike the girth of it.  It was very uncomfortable to smoke.  I’d probably have less of a problem with one of the 50 ring vitolas.  It is a bit one dimensional, but the flavors are enjoyable.  The construction is impeccable.  This is supposed to be CAO’s most robust offering but I found the CAO Anniversary Maduro to be more full bodied than this cigar.  The America really is a Medium bodied smoke never really approaching anything I’d considered full bodied.  from that standpoint it is a bit of a disappointment, but putting that aside it is a nice cigar.

Rating – B

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