H.Upmann Magnum 46 (2008) Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

Country: Cuba
Size: Corona Gorda 5.6″ x 46 ring

Follow along here and I think I can describe to you in a meaningful way what smoking this cigar tasted like.  Imagine you brewed a nice robust pot of Antigua Guatemalan coffee.  Next you lighten it with some half and half and then to top it off you put just a dash of Romana Sambuca in it. Now take a big swallow of that coffee and and imagine what the lingering finish of that swallow tastes like.  Next remove that slight bit of sweetness that the Sambuca gives it…

There you have this cigar.  A subtle bit of earthiness with strong flavors of coffee and cream and hint of anise.  It was smooth, creamy and perfect from start to finish.  The burn and draw were perfect.  The ash was perfect.  This cigar was perfect, like smoking a cup of coffee.

Oliva “O” Bold Omni (Old Embroidered Band) Thursday, Mar 19 2009 

Oliva O Bold

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona Gorda 6.0″ x 46 ring
Courtesy of Smokinson @ The Herf Hut Cigar Forum

So there I was minding my own business, walking out to the mailbox to get the latest pile of junk that had been delivered so I could throw it all in my trash ( I hate junk mail), when… KABLAM! I open the mailbox just to get “smacked” by a fine Brother of the Leaf over at The Herf Hut Cigar Forum. It came out of the clear blue sky. I was a victim of a sneak attack by Smokinson. In this random act of generosity was a selection of excellent smokes, two of which jumped out at me immediately.  In the package were two very nicely aged Oliva cigars.    The Oliva “O” cigars underwent a sort of re-branding a few years back.  It is now called the Serie O and the band and packaging has been completely redone.  Smokinson sent me two of the old “O” cigars, one of the Bold, and one Maduro from back before the re-branding.  Originally released in 2001 the Oliva “O” cigars were renowned for their presentation as well as for being a quality cigar.  They were very unique because the sported embroidered velvet bands rather than the traditional paper bands, and the boxes were unusually shaped as well, close resembling of all things, a toilet seat.  It is hard to find much detail on these  cigars at this point as it has been several years since this version of the “O” has been made.  Because of the age and the fact they are no longer made, this “O” Bold is a special treat and a very generous gift.  So I want to take this opportunity to once again thank Smokinson for his generosity and for sharing these cigars with me.  The “O” Bold that I am smoking today is a Nicaraguan Puro.  I am a very big fan of Nicaraguan cigars so I am looking forward to lighting this one up.

The wrapper is a dark, mottled brown and it seems to be very well filled.  The embroidered band makes for a very nice presentation.  The first few draws were very full and peppery.  It mellows out right away settling into a nice flavorful medium bodied smoke.  It has a classic Nicaraguan flavor, a strong core of toasted tobacco with some coffee notes.  It is surprisingly smooth yet still robust and a little chewy, signs of a well aged cigar.  It produces thick clouds of white smoke and the draw is absolutely sublime.  The draw could not be any better for me.  I noticed one odd characteristic of this smoke.  It produced a kind of numbing effect in my mouth.  Almost like a menthol feel but there was nothing in the flavor or aroma that was even remotely “menthol like”.  It was odd but not really bothersome.  At the halfway mark it developed strong leather flavors with just a hint of nuts layer over a consistent core of toasted tobacco.  The last third is all pepper and tobacco.  It maintains its smoothness and chewiness through the entire smoke, again a hallmark of a well aged stogie.  The “O” Bold is a fantastic medium to full bodied smoke.  A classic Nicaraguan through and through.  It is a shame they discontinued this smoke.  I wonder when I smoke a cigar like this, that is clearly a very good cigar, why manufacturers discontinue them rather than sticking with a winner.  Maybe it’s just that they don’t have the tobacco for it anymore. Either way it is a shame these aren’t made any more.  This is a solid smoke that has aged very well.

Rating – B+

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+

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