Category Archives: Cigar Reviews…

Wow, WTF happened here???

So, its been months and months since I’ve even been on here.  My last post was way back on November 20th of last year. Holy fuck, where the HELL did the better part of the last six months go?!?!

That last post was my wrap-up after last November’s trip down to Havana for the Friends of Partagas Festival.  I know, I know – like so many other things on here from the past year plus, I know I still need to do further updates.  Your text messages and emails have reminded me of such, lol!  I still have to publish a number of posts on some work stuff, some TASO missions, and other goodies.  And yes, further on that last Havana trip, as well as oodles of cigar reviews and tastings from last year.  I’ve got a SHIT-TON of this stuff to catch up on, as well as getting to some emails and other things.  Hell, I haven’t even been on the FOH forum in just about as long, and I opened up my email the other day (for the first time in about four-and-a-half weeks) to find 1189 emails wating for me!  Lol.

Actually, it was a text message / pic sent from a former co-worker that reminded me I need to get stuff caught up on here.  A picture of me porning-out over street-meat when we were in Germany doing the Syrian refugee flights in Nov/Dec 2015:

So his message reminded me to get going on here again.

Likewise though, I could also post photographic proof that shows that black men have apt skills when it comes to deep-throating pork products.  So, c’est la vie.  Lol

In all fairness though, it’s been a busy if not productive chunk of time for me.  My wife and I basically gutted our house and refinished it, all except for the kitchen itself.  Main bathroom refinished, downstairs bathroom completed, new carpets and specialty flooring throughout, some upgraded electrical and Cat6 and “smart home” stuff, reclaimed wide-plank hardwood flooring, all-new baseboards and trim throughout, rebuilt front foyer and custom wrought-iron balusters and railings, new LED lighting throughout, etc., etc.  All with fresh coats of paint top-to-bottom, refinished kids’ rooms, and a redone master.  This “jack-of-all-trades” definitely had his hands full, and I was especially grateful when I had two local specialty-contractors (good family friends) come help me out with two tricky things.  Lots of pictures were taken (even of the Mrs. in yoga pants and smashing out flooring tiles!), so I’ll do some posts on that series of projects too I guess.

We’re in the home stretch finally though.  About two weeks of relatively minor finishing touches to get done.  My schedule is going to be freeing up more after this week and upcoming holiday weekend.  I’ve got lots of rough sketches in place for blog posts, so it all will definitely (and finally) be coming down the pipeline shortly.

In the meantime, how about this???…….

I looked back on some notes, and I’ve nary even smoked any cigars since the last Havana trip ended back on Nov 19th or so.  A fucking travesty, I know!  Some of those cigars make up my last actual notes on cigars smoked.  I do remember I had a fairly good custom “robusto largos” (from Jorgito at the Club Habana LCDH [of “Monsdales” fame], Nov 2016 rolled) back at the tail-end of March for my birthday while soaking up a starry evening and hanky-panky in the hot tub, but I’ve got no detailed tasting notes or general info on that one (lol).

So, while your tardy scribe has been sitting here compiling this, he’s been enjoying a Ramon Allones EL 2011 Allones Extra.  Short review?  “Mmmmmmm – YUM!”

I do believe ithis stick was from an “RAE, Ago 2011” box (which has generally been a great box code, for what it’s worth, be it with these or any other Partagas/Ramon Allones/associated cigars).  Start was at 2:00 pm, enjoyed with the remnants of a bottle of Burmester 10-yr Tawny Porto (that I bought in either Prestwick, Scotland or Lages, Azores , Portugal early last year), and followed up with big cupfulls of blended strawberry daiquiris with what can only be described as way-too-much Bacardi white and Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos rum (hindsight being 20/20….hiccup!)  A hot, breezy day (27 degrees Celsius, 54 % RH, and 37 kph winds) that honestly reminded me of smoking cigars in Cuba, but a just reward for nearly wrapping up on the home remodel stuff, and getting the “great outdoors” / yards-and-back-deck all ready for spring and summer enjoyment.

The cigar started off with a kick to the nuts.  Powerhouse flavours from the get-go; dried cranberries, raisins, nutmeg, sweet molasses, all wrapped in heavy-/rich-and-oily tobacco essences.  Smoke volume wasn’t overly impressive, nor was it particularly viscous on the mouth-feel.  That said, the flavours definitely let me know I was in for a treat.  Strength and flavoursome all wrapped up together, with a bit of faint aged-elegantness starting to come into play now with nearly six years on them (coupled onto the two-plus years of age that the EL cigar tobaccos have to start with).  A few relights (due to winds and such, though I was relatively sheltered on the back deck).

I’ve generally always been a fan of this cigar.  I’ve had some lackluster boxes, and some stellar ones.  I know it’s one of those polarizing cigars that people either like or don’t.  I’ve even bought some boxes from others who weren’t fans, and those have turned out to be wonderful boxes for me.  But these are performing so consistently for me over the years, and are starting to hit such a finessed stride now, that it’s hard for me to not recommend them to anyone and everyone willing to give Ramon Allones / stronger / Limited Edition cigars a try.  A great brand, a wonderful retro band, classic RA box styling, an EL cigar at a reasonable price point (boxes initially sold for $279 USD, I believe, for a 25-box of corona-sized stick), and great burn and flavours…what’s not to love?  If you can still get any, I’d say to jump on it – even for upwards of $400-470 USD at this point, at least, if you can still find them anywhere.  I’ll definitely be savouring my five-plus boxes remaining.

An easy 94 – maybe even upwards of a 96 (but points deducted for heavy booze on the palate affecting the informal scoring, lol).  Finished at 3:25 pm.  And savoured well.

Here’s to many more!

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 2 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

And so, continuing on from my previous post about cigars from this trip

6.  Trinidad Fundadores.  Dic 2009 “OUS”.  Now this one was a bit of an experience to be had!  Had a loosely-packed foot, dark ligero-loaded head upon cutting, and some soft spots throughout that became more pronounced as the cigar progressed, due in part to the format interacting with the conditions that day (29 C and 79% RH, 19 kph wind, and right poolside).  Heavy residual salty taste and feeling in my mouth and nose at the start of this cigar, from snorkelling with Erin in the Caribbean Sea earlier.

But a perfect draw on this cigar.  It had a wonky burn to start, but with a slightly firm ash (1-1/2″ groups).  Not much smoke off the foot “at idle”, but loads of smoke when drawn on.  Heavy tones of leather and dark tea, saddled onto toasted tobacco.  Hits of shortbread cookies and honeydew melon – that’s right, folks, honeydew melon in there too!  LOL.

It held up very well in the heat and the humidity overall – the wrapper had some slight unravelling near the end of the experience.  No harshness or sour tinges, right to the stubby end.  A solid 93; would have perhaps been slightly higher if not for the slight construction and burn issues.

An elegant and classy smoke to start that particular day for me.  And to lead me into an ass-kicking afternoon of drinking triple-tequila margaritas.  Had a dinner reservation that night for 8:30 pm, but instead, went up to the room at 6:15 to have a nap prior to, and instead slept right through until 6:30 am – aside from having Erin shove my ass over in bed at 11 pm after she spent the evening reading.  LOL.

7.  RA Gigantes.  Nov 2013 “MUL” – from a gorgeous box found during my Feb-Mar 2015 trip to Havana, Cuba.  Enjoyed this with “Wata” and local Blue Mountain coffee.  And nope, that’s not a typo – it’s “Wata” down there, with an “a”.  Not “water”.  “Wata”.  As I was told, “It’s spelt as it’s said”.  LOL.  Awesome.

As for the cigar itself, it had flavours of cherry-red coffee beans, nougat, cooked red apples (a slight deviation from the atypical “RA flavours” of “stewed fruit”), and with strong molasses and wet leather tones.  Lots of relights.  Could have been much better if not for burn issues – 87 points.

Other notables…

RA Extra 2011 EL.  Ago 2011 “RUE”.  Okay, I guess.  Not the best one I had, but lots of tones of burnt brown sugar and leather, with some molasses.

Partagas Lusitania.  Dic 2009 “STA”, Czar’s PSP stick.  Awesome.  Just awesome.

Diplomaticos No. 2.  Jun 2008 “EMA”.  A perfect match for Grey Goose screwdrivers.

Trinidad Robustos T.  Jun 2009 “OUS”.  Kinda uninspiring that day, but my palate was zapped from spicy and strong foods, coffee and drinks from that morning and the previous day.  Still pissed that these were discontinued so early into their release by Habanos S.A. though.

And lastly…

The resort itself had a nice little cigar lounge there, Hemingway’s.  While I didn’t actually bother to visit it for a smoking experience, I did know it was there and wanted to check it out; it appeared to almost always be staffed during normal hours, and had a pleasant-enough looking selection (which did mostly appear to be legitimate stock, rather than some of the fake cigars being peddled by some of the shops in the resort’s plaza area).  The staff seemed attentive too, but it was just too nice of weather outside and such a gorgeously-designed resort for me to sit inside and smoke.

Perhaps on a future trip I’ll check it out more.

Cheers all.

Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 1 of 2)…

For some of the previous posts on this trip to the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, please use the following hyperlinks:

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: A Beautiful Escape in Montego Bay…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Fun In The Sun…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Food Fit For a King…”

“Jamaica Trip, Apr 2015: Pirate Beach Party and Local Flair…”

So, as I’ve done with previous trips, instead of doing full-on reviews, here’s a bit of an abridged version of what cigars smoked well, and where they were seeming to perform for me when on this trip last spring to Jamaica.  The smoking weather was comparatively perfect at a slight plus-or-minus variance of 28 degrees Celsius and 74% RH right at the mid-afternoon point daily almost.  And, as an added plus, the resort itself was a smoking-friendly resort (which I worry about a bit, when looking at resorts or hotels in “Americanized” locations in the Caribbean), and I smoked on our room’s terrace relaxingly, as well as quite a number of cigars being smoked poolside, with ashtrays supplied by staff, and no funny looks or questions about the “stinky cigar smoke” from either staff or other resort guests.  Frankly, when I did puff away, most were intrigued, and not a single nasty look or comment was noted (nicely enough).

1.  Quai d’Orsay Imperiales.  Oct 2012 “MUR” coded.  Enjoyed this with a Bacardi 8 & Coke, then with some Red Stripe beers.  Smoked well.  Lots of light cedar wood, cream, loads of vanilla bean, almost a hint of sweet almond nuttiness, and a heaping of refreshing citrus zest.  Delicious, with a wonky curve too.  Solid 94.  What a start!

2.  La Gloria Cubana Medaille d’Or No. 2.  Ago 2008 “TEB”.  Light black tea base tones.  Light herbal / floral essences waving in and out.  Rosemary with roses.  Then, carnations and dill almost (wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating in the heat or not, LOL).  Very fragrant combos.  Waves of dried cut grass in there.  EXACTLY what I love about nicely aged LGC sticks – like a spring breeze a day after the lawn was cut, and the yard work was satisfyingly done.

Excellent draw.  The ash held on in one-inch groups, but was very lightly compresses and easy to flick off.  Razor-sharp burn, no need for relights aside from one cosmetic touch-up.  A solid 93-point smoke.  Not an overly “filling” cigar, per say, or potently flavourful in an overpowering style, but an extremely nuanced and mature-tasting smoke, with a subdued finesse…PERFECT to start that particular day off.

3.  Ramon Allones Superiores LCDH Release.  May 2012 “MUR”.  An awesome mid-day smoke.  This one seemed a bit more muted than previous I’ve had, but I have high hopes for this particular box code.

4.  QdO Corona.  Ago 2008 “TEB” coded.  Like most of these cigars, another one of Czar’s HQ / PSP offerings.  This one was slightly tight with a restrictive draw – due, in part I think, to me accidentally leaving it out of my travel humidor during the evening before, and sucking up a bit more humidity than I like to store my sticks at (62% RH).  That said, potent flavours of leather, orange zest, and rich demerara sugar.

Mild burn issues throughout (again, like the slightly tight draw, something that’s tied in with over-humidifying it), and needed multiple touch-ups and relights.  Could have been better and was a bit unfortunate.  An 86.

5.  Cohiba Siglo IV.  Oct 2013 “POU”.  Wow – what an ugly cap this thing had.  This was enjoyed wholeheartedly with several piña coladas with double-shots of Appleton 12-year dark rum…and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Unfortunately, this cigar was one with another slightly tight and restrictive draw, and thin whispy smoke therefore.

That said, it had STRONG flavours of smokey honey and lemongrass tea, damp hay, and some buttered toast.  Rich flavours, but a bit of a paradox in that there’s just slightly closed-in about them.

I was thinking this may also be because this cigar is just not quite ready yet (just over a year-and-a-half old; baby-aged for Cohiba almost).  Will be amazed to see what these are like at 3- and 5-years, and how they may develop then.

More to come on this…

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Punch Sir John 2012 RE Germany, Unk. Code, 2012 Production; Final Score – 94

So, a review from this past weekend then, and then we’ll get “back to the future” with other posts…

Punch isn’t a big brand fave of mine.  Punch as a brand is also not readily available in Canada, due to a particular distribution arrangement that doesn’t bring the Punch brand within our borders much – so I’ll admit that may definitely play a bit part in my impressions of the brand.  That said, I used to love the older Punch Punch and Punch Black Prince sticks.  So, with me trying to keep that in mind, I was actually looking fairly forward to trying this stick.

This cigar is a Punch Sir John 2012 Regional Edition out of Germany, a Hermosos No. 4. gifted stick from Ute / “Perla”, a kind friend from Germany whom I’ve done a number of trades and “cigar bombs” with now.  Again, like many people in the online cigar world, I haven’t had a chance yet to meet her in person (but have a good friend who meets up with her regularly for cigars), but she seems like an absolute first class person, and is generous and ever thoughtful.  In that, she passed this one along for me to try…

Reviewed Cigar:  Punch Sir John 2012 Edicion Regional Alemania (Germany)

Box Date:  Unknown (2012 production)

Factory / Manufacture Code:  Unknown

Packaging:  Dress boxes of 25-sticks

Price per cigar:  Regional retail of ~11 Euros a stick (unk. cost though; gifted stick)

Length:  5″, or 127 mm

Ring Gauge:  48

Format:  Hermosos No. 4 / Corona Extra

Weight:  Shit, forgot to do this…

Construction / Appearance & Pre-Light:  Well, to set the stage, this cigar was smoked on my 10th wedding anniversary day this past weekend (no pressure, Ute – it’s just a piddly little 10th wedding anniversary cigar, lol).  I was able to enjoy the cigar on the back deck after watching my daughter play only her 2nd soccer game, crank up her goals to 4 already, and get player-of-the-game.

Due to everything else we had going on that day (as we just recently got back from St. Lucia, a trip for our 10th anniversary, and to the exact same resort we spent our honeymoon at), my sitting and smoking this cigar was a bit of a “gift” from my wife, as she wanted me out of the damn house, so she could get “things ready for an adults night”.  Hmmmm.  I gladly obliged!  And, as you can see from the pictures, I had a paired wine bottle and a half with this smaller cigar, LOL!  It was a wine gifted from my Mom and Dad, back just prior to our wedding – not really an aging type of wine, but something that was sort of aged and theme-appropriate for the evening.  But damn-hard to fit into the stinkin’ fridge…

The cigar itself (oh yeah – THAT thing, LOL) was an absolutely beautiful stick.  Flawless construction, beautiful coloured wrapper, which was kinda thick but not too much, and still was somehow silky smooth and flexible.  A quick cut, a light, and I was rockin’ and rollin’…


Opening Impressions, then First, Second, and Final Thirds:  Well, not too many notes.  Except that this cigar was EXCEPTIONAL.  I was totally revelling in the experience.  I was revelling a bit in the backyard revamp work being basically done now after two years.  Unfortunately (perhaps), the wine was less than stellar – it had a dry / cracked cork, and the wine itself had a dark beautiful colour but with no “pop” of flavour really; kinda tasted alcohol-free, and was extremely buttery and mellow, with no fruitiness really (all in all, kind of the OPPOSITE from what I was hoping for and expecting with this wine).  HOWEVER, that said, the wine seemed to pair extremely well with this cigar.  It only seemed to better accentuate the cigar’s positives.

The cigar had fairly viscous smoke, and was definitely on the lighter side of medium.  Some main elements of buttered toast, slight sweet spice, and with a smoky honey sweetness.  Each third had me correct a slightly wonky burn.  Throughout, I was thinking of maybe a mild cinnamon-raisin toast, buttered and with a dark honey drizzle.  I kept getting some light tones of leather through the middle, and the odd mild smoky woodiness too, though not from cedar or the usual suspects; to me, it almost seemed like a mild apple wood, or even a nice apricot tree wood, but smokey – almost kind of like using chips of that wood on the BBQ to slow rotisserie a nice roast.  Mmmmm!

And all the while, I was making faces at Erin, trying to get her to lose her concentration while she was “trying to fly” while playing Alto’s Adventure on her iPad (it’s a VERY addictive but simple snowboarding game that’s smartly animated).  Her concentration (and forced smile) was at it’s finest, while I was trying to distract her and type my notes…

Near the end of the stick, the smoke was lightening up even more in viscosity and density – while the flavours steered back to medium in the middle, the cigar was now becoming lighter…but more focused and refined in those flavours.  I know – it’s a weird paradox, but for those of you who have had quality aged cigars in similarly-developing profiles (La Gloria Cubana, Quai d’Orsay, some Trinidad, etc.), you know what an absolute treat this is.

And to cap it off, my wife surprised me with a nice little gift certificate for cigars, just an “added little something” to go along with a few other things, as well as our recent trip to St. Lucia too.  Very cool little added surprise to cap things off…

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Wow.  What an under-the-radar cigar for me.  I was really looking forward to trying it, for the gifting nature behind it, and the different experience it might give.  But, I was not really expecting to have my attention focused so well by this stick, and so exceptionally rewarded for my time.

To me, this particular stick was a solid 93-94.  There were some ever-so-slight hints of carbon on the aftertaste at the occasional point throughout the stick.  But, it was strong, or really deviating from the main experience.

I was only disappointed…that the experience was too short, LOL!  I know it was very much the blend and the format working together in harmony that gave me the experience that I had.  But if this stick was a Churchill-sized smoke, with this same profile/blend/performance that I got, it would have been an ABSOLUTE shoe-in for a 96-97.  And I don’t think I’ve ever gone over 95 or so before.  It’s only a pity that these Sir John’s are on the pricier end of the spectrum for this format / size of cigar.

Final Score:  94

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 9 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  June 17th, 2016; lit up at 8:35 pm, done at 9:44 pm

Paired Beverage:  2003 “Gaetano D’Aquino” Garganega-Pinot Grigio wine, a giant 1.5 L cobalt-blue bottle, gift from our wedding

Last Meal:  Can’t remember, but woulda been about 5:15 pm

Smoking Conditions:  On the back deck, 23 degrees Celsius and 53 % RH outside, with an 11 kph slight breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

A Detroit Evening with Hamlet Jaime Paredes…

So, similar to my write-up about my visit to see Hamlet Jaime Paredes for a “Tabaquero” cigar-line promotional evening at a Michigan brick-and-mortar shop back in January, I once again had the chance to go see him for another “Tabaquero” promotional night.  Nick Mitchell, the local Rocky Patel rep, had e-mailed me a while before, and gave me a head’s up of another night to visit with my Cuban buddy, this time at a spot a bit closer to me, in wonderful downtown Detroit.

Since emigrating from Cuba to the U.S. in January 2015, Hamlet has been working with Rocky Patel, and the two of them last year released the “Tabaquero” line of cigars, which were Hamlet’s baby under his palate- and blending-prowess.  This particular meet-up with Hamlet was again part of his touring program for the brand, and we met up at La Casa in downtown Detroit, MI, and I was able to bring along good brother Don / “Hubba”, from the Friends Of Habanos online cigar forum.

What a venue!  I was quite pleased by this locale.  Funnily enough, I’ve been to the parking lot right outside of La Casa a number of times – it’s the one I always go to for parking for taking in a Detroit Tigers game, as Comerica Park is literally just a few steps away across the street.  It was a nice cigar parlour, with a fairly well appointed shop and humidor downstairs (along with some interesting Xikar pouches, something custom made with a lithograph of a supposed Sylvester Stallone note, but something which the newer gal behind the counter was unable to tell me anything about)…

It also has a nice long main-bar with a good performance area for live jazz bands and the like, and a sparsely laid-out and intriguing upstairs VIP Lounge, with six or so different rooms, an outdoor terrace looking right at the Tigers’ play-place, and a really nicely appointed upstairs bar as well.  Comfortable chairs throughout, interestingly and nicely decorated all around, and just a great “vibe” to the place…

As during my January visit with Hamlet I tried one of the “Tabaquero” Toro cigars, this time I went with a Robusto Grande, a 5″ by 54-ring-gauge stick.  At only $10.99 USD a stick (prices different in each state due to tax variances), it’s quite a decent value.  I started the smoke at 7:05 pm, pairing it at various times with a Captain Morgan dark rum & Coke, then a straight Zacapa 23 rum, and lastly a Blue Moon Belgian-wheat beer.  Yup – some interesting pairings in there.

Hamlet, Nick, Don and I all had quite a bit of time to shoot the breeze.  Unfortunately, with the individuality and quantity of all the various rooms in the VIP Lounge, people were spread out all around.  Add that to the fact that it was a GORGEOUS evening out, and the attendance wasn’t as high as Nick was really hoping for.  There wasn’t as much of a “circling of the wagons” feeling to people hitting up Hamlet for questions and lots of time.  However, that loss let us sit and chill and relax and have lots of time to chat again.

Hamlet corrected me from my earlier post, and continuing thought initially that evening, that these “Tabaquero” cigars were Nicaraguan puros.  He corrected me that these are NOT Nicaraguan puros, but that they are instead Nicaraguan filler, the binder being half Mexican San Andrés and half Brazilian binder, and then the wrapper being Mexican San Andrés.  So, my bad on that (I’ve corrected that in my January post as well).

Talking about leaf, Don happened to ask Hamlet a question that got him on an interesting thought train, and that we had some good discussion about.  For the long and short of it, he stated that the Nicaraguan filler leaf, to him, seems EXACTLY like Cuban tobacco.  Yes, he acknowledged that obviously the taste is different, as the terroir from Cuban tobacco just has that certain essence, and tells a story of smoke that’s different on the palate from other region’s tobaccos.  But he said, if he closes his eyes, and he’s not actually smoking it, the physical properties seem damn near identical.  He said the texture, the tooth sometimes, the weight and tensile properties – it’s just like Cuban tobacco.  He said, to him, “if I close my eyes, it’s just like I’m back rolling at Briones Montoto [the old Romeo y Julieta factory].”

He also was quite excited – the “Tabaquero” Salamones just apparently got a 90 score in Cigar Aficionado.  Though I have my own personal gripes about Cigar Aficionado magazine itself (and especially the way they do scoring tastings), it still definitely will do good for him, Rocky, and the product line to get the extra attention that way.  He’s happy, so I’m happy – glad to see the extra attention coming his way.

And, once again, he did put on a clinic on cigar rolling aspects with his Culebra rolling display (funny to see the Stinky Cigar Ashtray with all the remnants in there too)…

Add to that, there was lots of other talk too.  Some interesting things coming in July at the IPCPR tobacco trade show, which he explained to me, and I’m excited to see come to fruition.  Also, hopefully his green card / U.S. citizenship is sorted out promptly as well, and we can make some plans for him to travel north of the border soon, as well as some other thoughts that he and I shared.

As for the cigar itself, while I found it didn’t start as well as my Toro from January, it was still quite nice, and finished fairly well.  It started somewhat harsh and tannic.  But, the cigars felt somewhat damp to me – while it isn’t overly humid in the region right now at all, and wasn’t that day, it definitely was more so compared to our January meet-up, so that could have had an effect.  Again though, this cigar reminded me thoroughly of some of my favourite Padron Serie 1926 and 1964 maduro sticks.  I had strong hits of dark rich leather throughout, and an omnipresent mahogany-and-cedar bold woodiness, with some dark fruits in there as well on the fringes.  The cigar had good volumes of smoke, and a medium-strength-and-not-overpowering peppery spiciness on the finish.

The stick finished at 8:38 pm, one-hour-and-thirty-three minutes.  I’d score it an easy 89.  Don had smoked one of the Coronas himself, and was amazed.  While he didn’t tell me any particular point scoring on it, I do believe he said he had the Robusto and the Toro before as well, and said the Corona was the winner, and worked so well with the blend.

Huh!  Who woulda thunk it?  Hamlet’s “Tabaquero” blend, working better with a skinnier format!!!  (Sorry – a bit of an inside joke for those that personally know Hamlet.  He HATES rolling thin-and-skinny cigars, as his preference is for Salamones and Robusto Extra / Canonazo formats and the like.  It’s funny as shit to get him swearing at you, Scarface-esque, when you ask him for “pencil sticks” though!!!!)


Well – I guess it’s only prudent that we all continue to bug him for a Lancero release then, right?!?!?  LOL.

Cheers all.

An Evening With Everyone’s Buddy, Hamlet Jaime Paredes…

So, just over a week ago, Saturday, January 16th, I was able to meet up with everyone’s “buddy, mang”, Hamlet Jaime Paredes.  Since emigrating from Cuba to the U.S. last January, he’s been working with Rocky Patel, and the two have now released the “Tabaquero” line of cigars, which were Hamlet’s baby under his palate- and blending-prowess.  This particular meet-up with Hamlet was part of his touring program for the brand, and we met up at Wild Bill’s Tobacco, in Lansing, MI, and I was even able to meet up with good brother Alex / “HabanoHam”, from the Friends Of Habanos online cigar forum, a wicked guy I’ve had the chance to do a few trades with over the years.

And while there, right off the get-go, I was able to partake in one of the “Tabaquero” Toro cigars, a 6″ by 52-ring-gauge dark and oily beast.  I enjoyed mine with a Sprite, and started at 5:25 pm…

Upon my arrival, Hamlet had organized a cherished seat right beside him to my pleasure and surprise, as he had received my message prior to me leaving of me attending this event; so, he wanted to have the chance for us both to catch up, and I got a big smile and hug from him when I got there.  Even the Rocky Patel rep, Nick Mitchell, greeted me upon my arrival, thankful for all of the support and kind words that Hamlet had passed along from myself and many other BOTL’s with regards to this new venture of Hamlet’s.  As Nick stated, the support Hamlet has got for this, especially from the various Canadian brothers, was nothing short of awe inspiring – “one of you guys are damn near at every event he comes up here to do!”  Nick was also a huge help in sorting through the plethora of new stuff with Hamlet’s “Tabaquero” line – something I much appreciated!

Hamlet – and no surprise there, for those of us who know him from his Cuban rolling days – put on a cigar-rolling clinic.  As a former master roller and house roller from the Romeo y Julieta / Briones Montoto factory in Cuba, as well as the “man behind the counter” while at the Partagas LCDH, Hamlet is a well-known personality from in Havana.  As much as Habanos S.A. is against the “cult of personality” that people such as Hamlet embodies, many believe that Hamlet was as much a great spokesman for Cuban cigars as the late gents Alejandro Robaina or Enrique Mons.  And for Hamlet to be so, at such a young age, and to have such talent in his hands, is truly a wonder to behold.

Therefore, he easily held the crowd in awe while at Wild Bill’s Tobacco.  He put on a clinic while rolling a 3-foot-plus long “culebras” cigar, and was adept at answering the myriad of questions from various American cigar enthusiasts there that have perhaps never had a chance to delve into Cuban habanos cigars, much less had the chance to talk one-on-one with a Cuban master roller.  Besides the culebras being rolled, he even rolled one of his classic “flying pig” cigars that he used to roll for custom rolls back in the day, and Brian Shaeena, the store manager, delighted in showing off the giant culebras…

The time was well spent.  Hamlet talked about his 21-plus-years rolling.  The talked about the “chaveta” / blade that he had there for rolling was the same blade he started with (“all kinds of rollers cut their fingers and hands all the time, mang – why sharpen it?  It’s already sharp enough for what you need to do – I’ve never sharpened mine, and it’s worked great for 21 years!”)

Speaking of years, Hamlet said that (on that particular date) he was just four days shy of being out of Cuba for one full year – and upon me asking him if he missed it, I got a resounding, “No mang!”  (Granted – he did elaborate later – he DID in fact miss his two boys from his previous marriage, but he was waiting for his U.S. green card so that he could travel back to visit them unimpeded.)  But he said he’s been too busy with the release of “Tabaquero” to be homesick.  That, and he said, he has a beautiful Cuban wife at home to cook for him – so he doesn’t even need to miss Cuban food, LOL!

Hamlet especially talked about the work that went into his “Tabaquero” line with Rocky Patel.  With “Tabaquero” specifically, Hamlet and Nick discussed the fact that it took 124 blends, 124 attempts to get things juuuuuusssst right, and in the end…the production blend is the very first blend that they came up with.  Basically, they hit a home run to start, they took 123 attempts to destroy it and make it better, but in the end it was a champion to start with.  At Tavicusa, Rocky Patel’s cigar factory in Nicaragua, Nick stated that all of Hamlet’s “Tabaquero” line are made by the same team of 85 people, that these are fully hand-made Nicaraguan puros. [EDIT / CORRECTION – Hamlet corrected me that these are NOT Nicaraguan puros, but that they are instead Nicaraguan filler, the binder being half Mexican San Andrés and half Brazilian binder, and then the wrapper being Mexican San Andrés.  See my new post, “A Detroit Evening with Hamlet Jaime Paredes…”, 9 May 16.]

Speaking of his cigar…

It was wonderful.  Frankly – it was surprising for me (slightly).  While I admire what Hamlet can do with tobacco, and while I’ve heard good things about this line from many people, Rocky Patel cigars are just not my cuppa tea – I’ve had the 10th Anniversary ones, and a handful of the dozen-or-so other lines he does.  But this “Tabaquero” blend is VERY un-Rocky-Patel-esque.  Honestly, it reminded me very much of a Padron Serie 1926 or 1964 maduro – another Nicaraguan stick.  And even then, at certain other points with dark fruity hints, it had essences of Ramon Allones, a very flavourful Habanos marca that’s a favourite of mine.

This stick finished at 7:02 pm, an hour-and-a-half-plus stick that was definitely flavourful and satisfying, scoring an easy 90 points fresh (disregarding the cracked head, which did so right after I cut it, no doubt due to dry humidity conditions in the region).  Point reductions were mostly for youth and a slightly tight draw that didn’t want to budge for the first half or so.  Hits of damp and dark leather, dark fruits (black cherries and blackberries?), a rich walnut nuttiness with heavy damp cedar tones – it was lovely.  And with a bright white ash that held on well, and light but voluminous smoke, it was a wonderful experience for all the senses.  The smoke wasn’t creamy and viscous in the mouthfeel – something I do look for and cherish in nice Cuban sticks – but the colour and volume made it interesting.  Even the smoking environment in the shop – usually I can’t stand being in an area like that, with non-Cuban cigar smoke lingering in the air; for whatever reason, it just gets to me.  But, the overall experience really surprised me for a non-Cuban stick; I didn’t have that reaction at all with these “Tabaquero” sticks being smoked.  Again, reminding me of a lighter or slightly different Padron Serie line sticks – but at the added wonder of being 2/3’s of the cost or less compared to those.  For a bold and wonderfully packaged mostly-Nicaraguan-cigar, these really do seem like a hit out of the park for Hamlet and Rocky.

Therefore, I rightly ponied up for a few goodies…

Another box of Salamones (I had previously ordered a box in the fall, but haven’t been able to touch those yet), some Robustos and Corona Gordas, and even some “Balas” (bullets in Spanish), the closest he’s able to do to his old Flying Pigs.  Further reviews on these other sticks will be coming this spring, once I lay them down for a short while.

And, for those of you who have been asking yourselves this whole time, “Tabaquero” means cigar roller in Spanish.  Hamlet elaborated that “torcedor” is also correct, and also means cigar roller – and that is the term more frequently used by the outside world, “torcedor”.  But he elaborated that “tabaquero” is more of a term that the workers use to refer to each other with – that a “torcedor” is someone just starting, more or less, but “tabaquero” is someone with many years of experience, someone more advanced.  That “torcedor” means SOLELY cigar roller, but that “tabaquero” colloquially means someone with anything and everything to do with cigar rolling.  So, someone who can’t just roll cigars, but one who knows and understands the full process, who can blend, who can grade and assess leaf, and who is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades master.

Very suiting.


Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Cuaba Piramides EL 2008, Sep 2008 “USE” box code; Final Score – 93

I love me some Cuaba…as long as they’re not regular production Cuaba.  LOL.  As the general discussion usually goes with Cuaba, most of their regular stuff (Divinos, Exclusivos, etc.) are generally crap.  If the flavour / blend ends up being anything worth tasting in a particular stick, it’s usually shitted up by having horrid construction leading to draw and burn issues.  The main thought is that the perfecto / figurado format that leads to bad construction and draw issues – I myself don’t think it’s necessarily that, as I love me some various perfectos, but, it’s definitely an issue where the roller’s skill is way more relevant to the success of these sticks.

With this being a relatively newer brand (started in 1996), they definitely need to pick up their feet with this brand, and start infusing Cuaba with some much needed love and attention.  The slightly peanut-laced flavour profile could make it more of a winner, if some care was taken.  And while being a perfecto / figurado might hinder the construction/performance of the cigar, the classic double-tapered appearance is definitely a unique thing (reminding most of the classic cigars seen with Groucho Marx and in the old Looney Toon cartoons).

So, all in all, most Cuabas I’ve tossed and haven’t stocked…save for a few coffin-boxed giant Diademas, or the EL Piramides.  Hell, these Piramides shouldn’t even have the Cuaba name on them, as they’re so different from the rest of the brand.  Well, maybe that’s what makes them so damn good!!!

These EL Piramides were part of the 2008 releases, along with another favourite of mine, the Montecristo Sublimes.  These carried along the change implemented in 2007 to the EL program (which was started in 2000) of having all the tobacco used in the cigar being aged for a minimum of two-years prior to rolling (compared with it only being the wrapper for the 2000 to 2006 EL releases).  Compared with normal cigar tobaccos (generally, 6 months for seco leaf, 9 to 12 months for volado and wrapper leaves, and 12 to 18 months for the stronger ligero leaf), these EL’s with the added-aged tobaccos used makes for some interesting, non-usual format smokes.

Reviewed Cigar:  Cuaba Piramides EL 2008

Box Date:  Sep 2008

Factory / Manufacture Code:  USE

Packaging:  10-count dress box

Price per cigar:  $17.50 USD (online vendor, 2009 purchase)

Length:  6 1/8″, or 156 mm

Ring Gauge:  52

Format:  Piramides / Pyramid

Weight:  17 grams / 0.6 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was awe-some.  This particular stick was one of three left in one of my original boxes of these, with another 3 boxes marinating away in the humidors yet.  And these just keep seeming to get better and better with time, so my fingers were definitely crossed with this one, being a bit of a celebratory smoke for me.

Nice bands and presentation with these, and I’m definitely a fan of the piramide format.  Really nice heft in the hand, and good bunching and overall construction.  No soft spots or overly hard areas either.  Hard to say any cigar can be “just about perfect”, but this one felt that way.  The wrapper was dark and light maduro, but wasn’t oily though – a slight hinderance for me.  However, the ever so slight tactile feel of the “tooth” of the wrapper with these always makes them feel nice in the hand.

At cold, strong dark fruit and brown sugar.  Sweet wood (cedar and/or maple perhaps?) and dark earth.

Opening Impressions:  Upon lighting and initial puffs, just enthralled.  Creamy and thick smoke.  Rich, coated mouthfeel with a sweet viscous smoke.

First/Second/& Final Thirds:  Yup.  Another delayed review here from the early spring, and surprise surprise, my tasting notes went sideways a bit.

What I do have down here is that this thing went stellar right off the bat with heavy tones of raisins.  I always seem to get that with these Cuaba Piramides – raisins, dark wood, molasses, and leather.  Well, my notes were spot on, with tastes noted of raisins, brown sugar, wet cedar, and old leather.  The cigar had a couple of tunnels noted about a third of the way in, but smoked well regardless.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Puff after puff, I remember wholeheartedly enjoying this cigar.

Also, this was enjoyed in the hot tub after a freak ice and snowstorm. While it was in late winter / early spring for us, it was 8 degrees celsius the day before I smoked this (with that day being at 0 degrees C / freezing), and then a temp of 18 Celsius expected in only another two days.  Tons of sea gulls were flying around – even those “shit hawks” were confused by the early spring weather.

It’s amazing what we’ll do to enjoy a good smoke.  Hell, we’ll even try a Cuaba from time to time!

Final Score:  93

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 2 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  March 31st, 2015; lit up at 10:08 am, done at 11:10 am

Paired Beverage:  Two big mugs of Cubita dark roast molido coffee, double-double

Last Meal:  Cereal breakfast, 8:15 am

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 0 degrees Celsius freezing, 94 % RH, 14 kph breeze

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Celestiales Finos 2009 RE Asia Pacifico, Ago 2009 “OMA” box code (Box # 1947 of 4000); Final Score – 92

Ramon Allones – yup, love ’em.  This one here is another format that I smoked earlier this spring, and neglected to get a review done.

This particular stick (both, actually – you’ll see why shortly) is from a box-split that I did with two other Canadian buddies from FOH.  When these things came out, they were fairly potent little powerhouses, very bold and in your face.  I was hoping time did them well…

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Celestiales Finos 2009 Regional Edition Asia Pacifico

Box Date:  Ago 2009

Factory / Manufacture Code:  OMA

Packaging:  25-count SLB, numbered boxes (box # 1947 of 4000)

Price per cigar:  $11.60 USD (online vendor, 2011 purchase)

Length:  5 3/8″, or 137 mm

Ring Gauge:  46

Format:  Britanicas / Perfecto

Weight:  12 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  Well, my first stick was wonderful.  Slight over-extension to the cap itself, but overall very nice.  But then…I dropped the fucker.  It hit the edge of the quartz countertop of our newly-and-almost-done downstairs bathroom, where I was taking a picture of it for better lighting, and cracked the wrapper right open.  Was not salvageable at all, and pissed me right off.  Then, unwrapped it right open, and kinda did a little autopsy of the tobaccos within.  Shoulda taken more pictures though, but it is what it is.

Anywho, after ruining my night, I gave another stick of this cigar a try the following evening, resulting in this review here.

Again, wonderful stick overall.  Slight compression of the foot (making it a bit one-sided / off), but no major issue there.  Gorgeous honey-brown colour to the wrapper, no veins, no cosmetic flaws to the silky thin and supple wrapper leaf.  The cap head had a slightly folded-over piece to it, but no issue there also.  The funny thing to notice is the slightly undersized RE bands used with this cigar – slightly too small for the ring gauge of the cigar, so you end up seeing bare paper, rather than a relatively-seamless continuation of the band from one end to the other.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold, I was quite happy.  Light white pepper tones, old leather, dry wood and grass, maybe a hint of black tea and honey.  This may be interesting.

Opening Impressions, then First, Second, and Final Thirds:  Well, I think it was interesting.  And yummy.

Honestly, I didn’t take many tasting notes, and it’s been a few months, so I’m hard pressed to remember all of the tasting particulars.  While I did some detailed pre-light notes on my iPhone, the actual smoking notes relatively went to pot once in the hot tub.

Here’s why…

LOL.  I had the little monsters follow me out into the hot tub after supper.  It was all about making faces at Daddy, and hamming it up for the camera.  Hell, even with these pics only going back a few months in time, I’m noticing how amazingly quick they’re growing up on me, especially with all the time I’ve had to spend away from home over the past few years.

I did take a few extra cigar shots, and from those, I do recollect a few things.  Namely, the burn was quite good and I fairly well enjoyed it once going through the tapered foot.  Also, being fairly humid with the hot tub, it was easy enough for the fairly tight double-bands to eventually separate on their own.

Also, one interesting point I picked up on while smoking was a lightening of the tobacco.  Basically, at the cut head of the cigar, after smoking it for a bit and the tobacco becoming more and more moist (such a naughty word, LOL), the tobacco actually become lighter.  It simply became a lighter tan shade of the golden brown that it was before.  There was no staining to my lips or anything like that, or any other noted differences.  Just simply that small bits of the tobacco got lighter in colour.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  So, the details on this cigar are a bit wanting.  The kids really had me going during this hot tub time instead.  However, two main things I did note with this cigar review experience…

Firstly, I did specifically make a mental note as to how much smoother these Celestiales Finos have got.  When they were first out, they were spicy and strong little bombs, that were somewhat harsh and hard to smoke initially.  But, I did note that things have improved immensely.  Still fairly good legs to come, and a definite cedar aspect starting to come to the forefront more, but definitely improving.

Secondly…love my kiddies and always get a chuckle out of them (when they’re not making me lose my hair).  Time spent with them can’t be frequent enough, and has more reward to my soul than any cigar smoked.

Final Score:  92

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 13 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  April 23rd, 2015; lit up at 6:12 pm, done at 7:25 pm

Paired Beverage:  Unsure, can’t remember

Last Meal:  Can’t remember, woulda been about 5:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 8 degrees Celsius and 68 % RH outside, with an 18 kph breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Specially Selected, Jun 2011 “ROA” box code; Final Score – 89

Ramon Allones is definitely in my top three favourite brands, if not my favourite.  With my love for robusto-sized cigars especially, a good RASS is in my top five for sure.  RA, as a brand, just generally has a nice dark and sweet tone – that dense, heavy, rich Christmas-cake lusciousness to it.  Stewed fruit – think of cooked dark cherries and such, boysenberries, perhaps mulberries – dark, cooked cherry-pie-filling, but without the heavy sugar added.  Mixed with molasses and rum, some brown sugar and walnuts in there too, heavy butter and cream.

Damn, I’m getting hungry.

This particular smoke was from a trade with a fellow member on the FOH forum, my last stick of a 5-stick or so swap with him from back in 2012 or so.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Box Date:  Jun 2011

Factory / Manufacture Code:  ROA

Packaging:  25-count dress-box

Price per cigar:  Traded stick (approx. $22.70 CDN value per stick)

Length:  4 7/8″, or 124 mm

Ring Gauge:  50

Format:  Robusto

Weight:  11 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was a fairly nice stick.  Decently thin and supple wrappers, with a healthy oily sheen.  Not quite as dark and rich as I like to see from RASS, but pretty damn nice overall, and not too far off.  No prominent veins to the wrapper, nice construction.  Fairly good aromas, if not a slight bit muted.

Good weight and construction overall.  Cap was perfect, and the bunch on the foot had nice colouring (a good blend of seco, volado, and ligero leaves), but just a bit lopsided and slightly overbunched it seemed.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold…not bad.  Fairly present RA flavours there, but with a tinge of dryness.  Perhaps hay and a grassiness there.

Opening Impressions:  Ahhhh.  RASS.  Such a consistent performer.  Such a consistent go-to stick.

First Third:  Into the first third, the experience was pretty nice.  Some RA Christmas-fruit-cake was right there in the forefront, but with some leather and hay tones added in.

Smoke volumes were nice.  Not a huge amount when “at idle”, but nice slightly viscous smoke on the palate when puffed on.  Definitely a cigar that you know you’re smoking – grabs your attention just enough to remind you what’s going on.

Into the hot tub…

Second Third:  …and into the second third.  Fairly flaky ash (not holding for 1/2″ plus), and somewhat wonky burn at times.  Smoke and flavours right where they should be though.  Leather backing off a bit, perhaps with an ever-so-slight backing of a dark chocolate / dry cocoa tone there.

The band was noticeably loosened from the cigar, a fairly consistent sign of a cigar with some age on it, especially with the larger ring gauges (comes from the cigar slowly “shrinking” over time compared to when rolled).

Final Third:  Into the final third, still consistent RA fruitcake tones.  The leather came back in front, with a slight citrus tanginess / sourness to it, but not in a way that was a put-off.

Not quite a full nubber (it definitely absorbed some of the hot tub’s humidity, and started to slow down and sour up near the tail end).  But finished well.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Some slight burn and construction issues didn’t really hurt this stick.  The flavour profile was pretty much spot on, and kept me attentive just enough.

This RASS, to me anyways, was distinctly noticeable though in that ever-so-slight difference between dress-box RASS and cabinet RASS.  Aside from two partial RASS dress boxes, all my own RASS are from 50 cabs.  There’s just such a slight, but yet ironically enough distinct, difference to the cigars taken from these two packaging methods (though they’re the same essential cigars from the ground up), that I’m a cab-cigar convert.  While it may not be a “blind” tasting decision, I would definitely say that quality cab RASS have a general 2-3 point difference minimum in extra enjoyment for me.  Something about the difference of a perfectly-round and artisan-intended original robusto, compared to the slightly box-pressed versions, just make enough of a difference to the burn, combustion, smoke development, etc.

All that said, these are generally always consistent for me and enjoyable.  I can count on them to give me an 86-93 point performance each time and every time.  If you can’t find or afford a 50-cab of these, much less fit them into your humidor or other cigar storage means, a 25-count dress-box of these should definitely be within everyone’s top 10 list of cigars to keep in stock.  Obviously, with this blend, the darker and richer and oilier the sticks, and the more pungent the barnyard aroma, the better.

Final Score:  89

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 10 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  May 23rd, 2015; lit up at 9:35 pm, done at 10:45 pm

Paired Beverage:  Blended margaritas

Last Meal:  Domino’s Pizza and italian cheese bread,  6:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 14 degrees Celsius and 46% RH outside, with an 11 kph light breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – SCDLH La Fuerza, Mar 2014 “EML” box code; Final Score – 90

SCDLH is a bit of a sweet-tooth favourite of mine.  I find they just hit the spot nicely every now and again.  To me, they have that nice dark and sweet touch, similar to a Ramon Allones (but without the boldness and mongrel that I love in that brand), or even similar to well-aged Por Laranaga with their caramel tinge.

As I described in my last review about the SCDLH Oficios LCDH release, San Cristobal De La Habana is a very recent brand in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, only being born in 1999, and made to commemorate Christopher Columbus, using the original name for Havana itself.  Also, the unique little historical part (which I love when it comes to Cuba and Cuban cigars) is that all of the brand’s main cigars are named after the old forts that guard the harbour entrance into Havana – El Morro, La Fuerza, La Punta, and El Principe.  I always try to have a nice quality box of La Fuerza around, as the gorditos / robusto extra format works just so well with so many blends, and is one that both enthusiasts and relative newbies alike all can smoke without too much concern for smoking styles or techniques.

This particular box is a brand new and gorgeous one that I found on my Nov 2014 Havana trip, and was able to snag it up when box browsing at the LCDH shop at the Partagas factory.  A couple of us snagged some gorgeous boxes of these, and that hectic afternoon also included being able to help Hamlet Jaime Paredes pick through some stellar boxes of Sir Winnies for other travelling companions and store customers as well.

After trying a few fresh in Cuba on that trip, as well as gifting a few out, this particular cigar I smoked way back in December, specifically for this review.  Unfortunately, it’s another one that got lost in the shuffle and I simply neglected to get published prior to now.

Reviewed Cigar:  San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza

Box Date:  Mar 2014

Factory / Manufacture Code:  EML

Packaging:  25-count dressed box

Price per cigar:  $212.50 CUC (Partagas LCDH in Havana, Cuba)

Length:  5 5/8″, or 141 mm

Ring Gauge:  50

Format:  Gorditos / Robusto extra

Weight:  12 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was from a really dark, oily, and pungent box that I picked up in Havana in November.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  Thin, supple, marbled in colours and oily (two favourite characteristics of mine to see), with very strong “barnyard” aromas.  Love it.

This particular stick had good construction and weight to it.  The cap and wrapper were perfect looking, and the bunch on the foot was just wonderful – though it seemed to be a slight bit too open (I like to see lots of tobacco there), it was just the right firmness, and the colour lapping between the different tobacco types was present, with no one-sidedness apparent.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold….CRAP!!!!  A wind tunnel at cold!  But the cigar felt good in construction, with no hollow / soft spots, yet it was just a complete breeze moving through it on the cold draw.  However, a massive and definitive flavour at cold of gingerbread (what I always love to see in my SCDLH’s), so this one was getting lit anyways – well worth the test.

Opening Impressions:  Boom.  Warm gingerbread cookies and rich, dense, toasted tobacco.  Awesome.  A bit firmer on the draw once lit, and not off-putting anymore.  Quite a copious amount of smoke when puffed.

First Third:  Into the first third, the experience was pretty damn good.  The gingerbread and tobacco flavours were there in rich heapings.  Some wet leather coming into the fold.

The smoke progression and burn on this was great.  For such a damn young cigar, and being made with such rich and oily tobacco, I was having no burn problems.  I made one small cosmetic touch-up with my torch in the first third, but throughout the whole first half of the cigar, the burn was relatively sharp and even.

Second Third:  Into the second third, I noticed that the ash, while holding on in decent clumps, was fairly flaky.  Almost like the wrapper and binder leaf, once burnt, was “peeling” away from the inner core tobacco, almost like petals on a flower begin to open up and spread out.  It wasn’t a detriment to the smoke, but it was curious with how this ash was holding minimally like that.

The core gingerbread and rich tobacco tones continued to build in intensity.  Some dark old leather coming in there, joined by a bit of wet hay perhaps.  Some ginger root tucked on the fringes.

Final Third:  Into the final third, a little bit of change from the building stature of this cigar.  Some of the flavours, notably the gingerbread and leather, receded.  Coming to the forefront instead was a strong peppery tone.  The draw began to firm right up, and a completely wonky and “canoeing” burn began to occur.  A heavy touch-up relight to solve this, and it continued with the peppery tinge, with a bit of an anise root coming into play, and perhaps with some bland dark chocolate.  The pepper hint really put the other flavours in the background.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Even though this cigar wasn’t the most well-behaved and had some notable draw and burn issues, it was still pretty damn good.

The gingerbread and leather hits were there in spades.  Amazing overall flavour profile, and was just bold enough.  Hell, this cigar was only 9 months old, fresh from a Cuba trip, and this was the worst-performing one out of that box that I’ve had so far, to the best of my recollection.  And – I was still satisfied with this smoke.  To me, that’s a big thing on a cigar’s onus there – that it leaves you satisfied.  That it was time well spent.  And, all things considered, even the negatives of this one particular stick, it definitely was.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the box holds in store for me, as this stick’s brethren get more and more aging time under their belts.

Final Score:  90

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 8 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  December 15th, 2014; lit up at 9:20 pm, done at 10:28 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Big Smoke artisan burger, 4:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 6 degrees Celsius and 93% RH outside, with a 16 kph breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – SCDLH Oficios LCDH Release, Dic 2005 “FJN” box code; Final Score – 86

I had a nice little experience smoking this cigar, even if the cigar itself wasn’t my favourite of recent times.  A co-worker of mine, she being also into cigars mildly on-and-off for years, had found a fairly local cigar retailer near our workplace, on a local native band’s reservation.  I’ve known of this retailer for some years now (being a company that many online international cigar enthusiasts purchase from), but did not realize it had a very decent private lounge with some extraordinary comfy leather seating.

So, one particular “long change” off (where we have a 24-hr period off of work, as we switch from days to our night shift), her, I, and another co-worker who occasionally enjoys cigars, we all went to this retailer to enjoy a couple of hours, tucked away enjoying our hobby away from the end-winter temperatures (though it was a decent enough and sunny day).  It was nice, as I was able to do some fairly decent window-shopping, and purchased a bunch more non-Cuban sticks to bring down as unique treats to Cuban friends during my Feb-Mar Havana trip (it’s something I like to do, as they’re generally unable to get stuff from off their own island like that).

Anywho, when we were perusing their walk-in for Cuban cigars, I came across these San Cristobal De La Habana sticks from their LCDH Release series.  SCDLH is a very recent brand in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, only being born in 1999, and made to commemorate Christopher Columbus, and using the original name for Havana itself.  All of the brand’s main cigars are named after the old forts that guard the harbour entrance into Havana – El Morro, La Fuerza, La Punta, and El Principe.  The La Casa Del Habano Release series, made somewhat exclusively for the chain of international stores selling Habanos cigars, was sort of brought about in 2004 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the brand, when the El Morro was included into a commemorative special humidor release along with 3 new sticks -Oficios, Mercaderes, and Muralla.  These new three were re-released in 2006 until 2011 as a special LCDH Release series, in a special box and with a secondary LCDH band, with some of the original-release boxes of these coming out in late 2005, as this box of Oficios was.

These piqued my interest when I came across them due to the box date and relative nice condition of the cigars, lovely dark wrappers, and just as a nice change of pace for me (I really like the La Fuerza, and also keep a good stock now of La Punta, but these special one’s [LCDH sticks] haven’t just been on my hit list).

Reviewed Cigar:  San Cristobal De La Habana Oficios LCDH Release

Box Date:  Dic 2005

Factory / Manufacture Code:  FJN

Packaging:  25-count varnished natural box

Price per cigar:  $14.41 CDN (brick & mortar local retailer)

Length:  5 3/8″, or 135 mm

Ring Gauge:  43

Format:  Dalias cortas / Corona

Weight:  Didn’t weigh this particular stick

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was a nice looking box.  The presentation on these in the darkly varnished “boite nature” boxes are a nice change from SCDLH’s generally blah looking light-yellow-and-white semi-dress boxes.  The box varnish is a pretty close match to the secondary LCDH bands on these sticks.

This cigar was pretty nice looking.  Fairly dark and marbled wrapper, light oils on the wrapper leaf, and with just a slight imperfection to the finishing of the triple-wrapped cap.  The construction and weight in hand was fairly nice, with the cigar being somewhat solid but without any overly hard spots.

After a cut and taste at cold, just one main hit – molasses, and loads of it.  Fingers crossed

Opening Impressions:  Definite tones of rich, aged tobacco.  Loads of smoke when puffed on, but only slight wisps on its own.  A bit more restrictive on the draw than I’d like once lit.

First Third:  Into the first third, the molasses sways ever so lightly in and out, mostly leaving just a rich tobacco tone.  Maybe a bit of hay and wet leather around the fringes.

I was having this with an XO brandy – can’t remember for the life of me what the brand of it was.  I’m not a huge brandy drinker, though I do like the occasional touch, especially around the Christmas holidays.  I grew up with a Dutch mother (and my wife loves that, as I “came trained” as she likes to say), and a typical goodie that we always had floating around the house over Christmastime was “brandy beans”.  Great little candies – a dark chocolate, banana-shaped “bean”, filled with a half teaspoon or so of brandy liquor inside.  So, as a pre-teen kid, I remember scamming the whole box on multiple occasions, and REALLY enjoying my Christmas holidays!

Second Third:  Into the second third, not much more really.  The molasses tones really waved back into the latter recesses of the aftertaste.  The rich tobacco tone was there, but it was ever so faint.

This was turning into a bit of a hot-air generating blah.

Final Third:  Into the final third, a little bit of redemption.  The hay and dark leather came back a bit, and a wet woody tone came into play, almost sweet but a bit mangy at the same time.

I noticed at about the mid-way point on the cigar, and it became really prominent in the last third, that my tongue was starting to get a tingle.  This cigar was becoming very tongue tingling, almost like a nicotine sting on the tongue, but without a heavy nicotine hit though.  Almost like that residual feeling on your tongue from some Novocaine at the dentist’s office.  Kinda weird.

Maybe some tinges of an anise flavour in there too?  Was that part of the tingling I was getting?  Hmmmm.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar wasn’t overly complex.  I was hoping for something special, considering I do like the heavy molasses and leather I get from other SCDLH sticks.  This wasn’t overly complex, but also kind of showed some faint dark brown sugar tones right near the end.  The leather was there a bit, but it became over-ridden by a carbon / pencil lead finish in the last third too.

Nothing special.  Are these past their prime?  Was it the brandy overpowering the stick?  Was it another example of a cigar that didn’t draw too much attention for its flavours upon release, and now aged, has simply become an aged cigar with not much to offer?  I’m not sure – perhaps its a combination of all the above – as I didn’t delve into these on original release.

I’m sure there might be fans of these.  While a nice change, and the looks and such checked all the right boxes, the flavours just weren’t there for me.  Not a throwaway, though, so I may have to give another stick a try again in the future.

At the very least, good time spent in a nice spot with great co-workers.

Final Score:  86

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 18 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  March 11th, 2015; lit up at 1:05 pm, done at 2:23 pm

Paired Beverage:  XO brandy

Last Meal:  McDonald’s Big Mac combo, 11:55 am

Smoking Conditions:  In an indoors lounge at a very comfy 20-something, and very well ventilated, but 6 degrees Celsius and 59% RH outside.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs, Nov 2002 “EAR” box code; Final Score – 92

As I carried on in the same evening from my previous review on the H. Upmann Monarch tubos, I took a quick rest inside the house (the winds were picking up), and then with my wife joining me in the hot tub, I got to enjoy Round 2 of my cigars that night, a stellar example of a Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs.

I love Ramon Allones.  Yup.  That I do.  So, I figured I’d enjoy this stick, regardless of….gasp…being a dreaded “machine-made” variant.

Okay.  I tried to say that with a straight face.

I personally don’t get the disdain that some have for certain machine-made cigars.  Granted, I definitely have a grumpy experience with some of the “lesser brands”, or “cheap and cheerfuls” as many refer to them as well.  But a machine-made can still be a beautiful thing.  While it misses that certain human-touch in its artistic quality, if the tobacco itself is good, it can still be a top-notch experience for a relatively inexpensive cost.

This stick is a beautiful example.  A cigar from one of the multitude of trades that I’ve been able to do with great BOTL Chris / “chanceschmerr”, a fellow CF member who’s across-the-pond at a special navy offi-sure school right now, this was a special cigar he sent for me to enjoy.  These RA Mille Fleurs are cellophane-wrapped lovelies which he snagged from a nice little shop in Andorra on a past mission rest-stop.  These are solely machine-made sticks which were discontinued in 2005.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Mille Fleurs

Box Date:  Nov 2002

Factory / Manufacture Code:  EAR

Packaging:  25-count dress box of cellophane-wrapped cigars

Price per cigar:  Unk. (traded stick)

Length:  5 1/8″, or 129 mm

Ring Gauge:  42

Format:  Petit corona

Weight:  9 grams / 0.3 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  The overall tobacco quality and finish on this cigar wasn’t bad.  A smaller stick, I’m impressed that something like this can be done as efficiently as they are with the type of older machines that Cuba has.

Nice wrapper colour, and no soft spots throughout the cigar itself.  With a this machine-made stick, I noted that the cap had a fair bit of a wrinkle / crease to it, and the triple-cap was horribly sloppy.  As these machine mades are hand-finished, it’s a bit of a sloppy finalizing, though the rest of the wrapper was applied very well, and the band was finished well (and I love the older / smoother / less-refined RA bands too).

The cello had a nice very slight yellowing to it, and the foot (as can be seen in the below pictures) showed that the bunch was packed amazingly tight on one side, but fairly loose and with holes on the other.  Again, no soft spots or issues there, but just an example of how a machine-made stick can’t have that artistic-finishing quality that human hands can.

After a cut and at cold, not too shabby.  Slight caramel sweetness, a bit salty, and with a fragrant aged tea tone.

Other construction notes?  Wife was sporting a new(er) bikini – me likey!

Opening Impressions:  A wonderfully aged smoke.  This thing just started right in.  Caramel flan tones to start – caramel, creme brulee, vanilla, breadfruit doughy-ness.  Loving it.

First Third:  Into the first third, light leather with burnt caramel edge.  Not a lot of the stewed fruit aspect that I normally get in Ramon Allones’ sticks though.  Some brown sugar, hay, and well-aged toasted tobacco.  Very refined toasted tobacco tones coming through full volume.

Second Third:  Into the second third, a lot of the same.  Swaying back and forth with the burnt caramel, and bready, toasted tobacco.

Final Third:  Into the final third, creme brulee coming to the forefront again.  Vanilla, burnt / carmelized brown sugar, and bready goodness.  Almost a bread pudding kind of flavour tone (you know – that traditional kind of bread pudding, made with eggs, milk, bread chunks, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.); just wonderful.

Still unfortunately not getting the heavy stewed-fruits / Christmas fruitcake tone that I so love with RA.  Kind of wished it was there, but this stick, for its fair size, was still giving me lots of performance value.

A good cigar to go along with a great view.  😉

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar burned impeccably well for me too.  Burn was relatively razor sharp, and did not require any relights that I recollect.  The aged refinement that this cigar had was wonderful.  The slightly perfumy, aged, toasted tobacco tone throughout, along with the tag-team of a caramel, creme brulee hit, made this just a great little cigar to enjoy.

I know Habanos has got rid of machine mades.  While I don’t necessarily disparage that, it would be nice if this Mille Fleurs blend was still offered in a handmade.  Hell, even if a handmade, “luxury” version of the RA Mille Fleurs was offered perhaps as an RE from a cunning distributor, I think it’d be quite a hit – I’d LOVE to see that done, a box of 25 cellophane wrapped sticks to bring back that vintage look, and in a size format where a 25-count box wouldn’t make it beyond the reach of many.

Dollar value, these are excellent – inexpensive machine-mades can definitely be worth an addition into someone’s smoking stock, provided it was a good quality run.  Though these are all discontinued, the fairly extensive age on any remaining at vendors will make it well worth the search.  That perfumy aspect of nice aged cigars are a great taste to experience.

Final Score:  92

Total Smoking Time:  42 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 18th, 2015; lit up at 8:58 pm, done at 9:40 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Haddock and chip dinner w/ coleslaw, 5:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, continuing chilly and fairly windy night, -12 degrees Celsius and dropping rapidly, 68% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – H. Upmann Monarch tubos, Unk. pre-2007 code; Final Score – 91

Yup – another delayed review.  Deal with it peoples!  😉

And getting into some of these delayed reviews, we have this specimen, an H. Upmann Monarcas / Monarch tubos.  The actual name of this stick is a Monarcas, however, the old-style aluminum tubos have Monarch on them – surprise, surprise, Cuba isn’t 100% clear on what something is.  Hell, I myself am not 100% on what the box code was on this particular stick, but I’m guessing 2006-early 2007.  These came from a mixed sampler purchase from December 2007, and at the time, I noted that these were from a pre-’07 (must have been something that the retailer stated to me at the time of purchase).  The band as found on these was only started on various H. Upmann sticks in 2006, and these cigars were eventually discontinued in 2009.

Was / is that a shame?

Reviewed Cigar:  H. Upmann Monarca / Monarch tubos

Box Date:  Unk. (2006 to early-2007 stick)

Factory / Manufacture Code:  Unk.

Packaging:  Tubos from 25-count dress box

Price per cigar:  Approx. $20.00 CAD per stick (part of a tubos sampler from online retailer)

Length:  7″, or 178 mm

Ring Gauge:   47

Format:  Julieta No. 2 / Churchill

Weight:  16 grams / 0.5 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was pretty darn nice.  Colorado rosado wrapper, fairly smooth and silky-thin wrapper leaf.  The foot itself looked somewhat loosely packed, however there were no soft spots to the cigar, and it felt fairly hefty and well-packed in hand.

What’s also nice is that this came in the older, plain-aluminum tubes.  Sooooo much nicer than the newer weird and ugly dark-green painted ones for H. Upmann.  These older matte-finished plain-aluminum ones have a nice tone of dark green paint for labelling, and the added touch of the embossed H. Upmann logo on the threaded end-cap make it just a nice presentation all-round.

After a cut and having a taste at cold, very nice.  Some honey, extremely light cinnamon, and fresh cream at cold.  Interesting.

Opening Impressions:  Not bad.  A razor-sharp burn to get it going, and decent amounts of smoke once going.  Some nice creamy and shortbread tones in there.

First Third:  Into the first third, I picked up on some flavours of Sir Winnie, but it was a bit introverted through this first third.  Definitely loads of rich tobacco in this Churchill.  I’m generally only partaking in some other H. Upmann vitolas (Sir Winnies, Magnum 46, Mag 50 sometimes, and the occasional No. 2), so this one has been near and far to me.  Definitely more toasty tobacco and woodiness through it.  The creamy and shortbread tones began pulling back some.

Second Third:  Into the second third, this is where it opened up for me.  Toasted tobacco tones.  Some light cedar essences in there, almost a different kind of cedar though – almost like the aroma you get in a dried-out cedar-lined dry sauna.

Started to get a slight bit more edge and more “heat” to the flavours. Perhaps a pink or white pepper edge added to it; almost like a red-pepper-jelly fading in and out of the honey and shortbread sweetness.

Final Third:  Into the final third, the body built up more, getting into the medium-full range, and I started really getting that mongrel version of Sir Winnie.  Dirty, dank, wet shortbread cookies, hints of bread and some toasted nuts.  Lost the honey and cream aspects completely.  If not for knowing how aged it was, part of me would have guessed it was a younger cigar, for some of the mangy youthful aspects kicked in.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar was so-so for me.  The burn was impeccable – razor-sharp, and not needing any relights, even considering the humid and breezy smoking conditions.  I really started getting more and more of a peppery version of a Sir Winnie – though part of me longed for a more creamy and refined Sir Winnie, looking at the same band.

This is a slightly stronger, less refined, more “mangy” version of a Sir Winnie, in my opinion.  So, with so few cigars left in the H. Upmann profile, was it wise to have this cut from the portfolio?  Definitely, its always a shame to see any cigar get the axe, as every single cigar has it’s fans.  That said, I don’t overly disparage the thinking behind it, as two Churchills in the same brand, with fairly limited selections, wasn’t likely of the greatest business sense.  I mean – how hard would it be to play second fiddle to the Sir Winnie too?!?!?!?

It was a nice experience overall, and generally pleasant smoke.  I won’t be searching out any further samples in the future likely, but I did enjoy the well-aged toasted-tobacco aspects of this stick, and the overall construction, burn, appearance and packaging all saved the score on this stick despite my palate not overly agreeing with the experience.

Final Score:  91

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 5 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 18th, 2015; lit up at 6:20 pm, done at 7:25 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Haddock and chip dinner w/ coleslaw, 5:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, but a fairly chilly and breezy night, -10 degrees Celsius and dropping rapidly, 72% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Ramon Allones Phoenicio RE Libano, Sep 2008 “TEB” box code (Box # 1889 of 6000); Final Score – 97

Well, since my post-Cuba wrap-up from my Havana trip in Feb-Mar has drawn so much of my time, I’ve got a bit of a backlog of formal reviews to get posted.  This one especially, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get done.  Easily, my best cigar ever to date, at least since I’ve been “keeping score” so to say and recording my reviews in a Cigar Dossier since about 2008 or so.

I was sent this sample with some surprise.  During last Christmas, I “cigar bombed” a number of good BOTL’s – guys and gals worldwide that I’ve done trades with in years gone past, and whom I really enjoyed our trades, but for whatever reason, it had been a while since we last traded – so I sent out some assortments of fresh custom cigars from Cuba.  So, with this cigar reviewed in particular, it came to me from Emil / “Tropical Doc” down in Florida.  He and I have talked and traded cigars for about 5 years or so now, but it had been nearly 3 since our last trade.  So, at Christmastime, I bombed him down a package with about a 1/2 dozen or so miscellaneous Cuban customs, some specific favourites of mine.  Then, in January, I opened up my mailbox to find a package containing this…

So, yes Emil, you’re a force to reckon with, and not to be outdone!  LOL.

He sent me the above, along with some party favours / promo material from his new lounge he’s started up.  As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, LOL, he’s taken on this new venture.  I highly encourage you to check out his webpage here at, and visit his lounge if you can, if you’re in the area.  After meeting him in Havana last month, I can gladly say he’s one of the most enthusiastic and passionate guys for cigars, especially for someone that’s not directly in the main industry (until starting up his lounge now).  My plans are to take a swing by next spring when next down in Florida with the family.

In the meantime though, this piddly little cigar would have to do!  I picked it first out of the cornucopia he sent me, as I’ve heard lots about it, and was very interested in it.  Emil was also kind enough to pass along some “product shots” of it’s kin-folk…

The Phoenicio was a nice, hefty sublime.  This particular sample was the first coming out of box number 1889 out of 6000.  These cigars were made to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Phoenicia Trading, the importer for Lebanon.  A Phoenico, made for Phoenicia – yup, it gets more confusing.  This particular variant was from the 2008 release, when there were 6000 boxes made, with 30-sticks per box.  They proved to be so popular and well-reputed, that they created a re-release in 2009, with 15-cigars per box and 3000 boxes produced of that variant, though it apparently hasn’t been as well-regarded of a smoke.

But, this one being from 2008, I was looking plenty forward to it.

Reviewed Cigar:  Ramon Allones Phoenico, 2008 RE Libano

Box Date:  Sep 2008

Factory / Manufacture Code:  TEB

Packaging:  30-count varnished box, numbered boxes (box # 1889 of 6000)

Price per cigar:  Unk.

Length:  6 1/2″, or 164 mm

Ring Gauge:  54

Format:  Sublimes / Double robusto

Weight:  20 grams / 0.7 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was constructed so damn impeccably.  I love a cigar that hits all the good aspects of construction (no soft-/hard-spots, good fill, nice foot, pungent aroma, etc.) and also has a wrapper that’s dark and “marbled” in appearance, showing the oils within and on the wrapper leaf.  This cigar was all of that.

Beautiful band, beautifully oily and marbled wrapper, strong aroma, great format, heavy and sturdy cigar, and then, upon clipping the cap, a slight divot (revealing great construction/roll within), and just the perfect slightly resistive draw.

At cold, strong cherry and molasses notes.  Strong woodiness.

Opening Impressions:  Upon lighting and initial puff, just enthralled.  Thick, creamy smoke, and big puffs of it.  Sweet, rich – like a sugar-coated dank forest floor.

First/Second/& Final Thirds:  Fuck me.  This was just a DAMN EPIC CIGAR.  I didn’t take detailed notes – I remembered to take some pictures, and that was about it.  I got lost in the cigar itself – those are the BEST cigar experiences, in my opinion!  I just remember the overall experience of the cigar, but not so much the individual aspects / thirds of it.

It had huge, bold flavours.  I noted that my wanted RA flavour-tones were all there at some point – Christmas fruitcake, molasses, rich carmelized brown sugar, stewed dark fruits (prunes, cherries, blueberries?), dark and damp rich woods (that forest-floor oak tone), and an almost sweet, bready, cookies-and-rich-coffee tone.


This cigar just hit home run after home run, puff after puff.  Loads of smoke on every pull, and thick, viscous, coat-your-palate-good smoke at that.  That unsweetened-whipping-cream sort of palate-coating goodness.  This cigar was just a flavour-laden stick, with a size format that, while on the larger-side of what I enjoy, actually made it all that much better – and that I wish lasted another hour or so!

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  What else can I say?????

A box of these (which is no doubt in the higher realm of pricing due to slim availability now) is on the short-list for me now.

To me, these don’t need anymore age at all.  I would be interested to see what they do over the next 5 and 10 years though, but if I had a box in hand, they wouldn’t last 1/2 that long I don’t think!!!

Final Score:  97

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 36 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  February 19th, 2015; lit up at 9:00 pm, done at 10:36 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Can’t remember – didn’t make note of it

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, light breeze, -19 degrees Celsius, 92% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Cigar Review – Cohiba Piramides EL 2001, Unk. code; Final Score – 93

[EDIT / NOTE – I actually wrote this review on Feb 25th earlier this year, ahead of my Feb-Mar Havana trip.  But, for whatever reason, it looks like it wasn’t published, and I just noticed it sitting in my “Drafts” folder while compiling some other reviews.  So, here you go…]

So, in “recovery” mode after last November’s Encuentros Partagas, I decided to indulge a little for some good “me-time”.

This cigar was from a charity auction event from earlier in the year, and as such, I’m not 100% sure of the box code from this sample.  My initial plan was to set this aside, and save it for a special event.  Well, simply, surviving the monsoon week we had in Havana in November, the digestive issues of a fair few of us, and having my wallet get raped by Customs on my way back, well, frankly, an afternoon to myself to sit back in the hot tub and indulge was enough of a special event for me.

This was my first of these, that I recollect, since I got back into cigars in 2005 or so and started keeping records in a Cigar Dossier (highly recommend it to those who want helpful tasting notes at hand, and are quite simply, uhhhh, anal retentive enough like me to keep up with it, LOL).  I think I might have tried a couple of these when they came out, but I’m not 100%, and there’s nothing in my recent notes.  So, for all intents and purposes, I was really going into this cigar with a blank slate.  Albeit, with some hopes.

A revered cigar – how did it fare?

Reviewed Cigar:  Cohiba Piramides EL 2001

Box Date:  Unk. (2001-2002 production, 2002 release)

Factory / Manufacture Code:  Unk.

Packaging:  Came in 25-boxes, varnished semi-boite nature box

Price per cigar:  Unk. initial cost, paid $110 or so at the charity auction

Length:  6 1/8″, or 156 mm

Ring Gauge:  52

Format:  Pyramid

Weight:  Unk. (forgot to weigh this bad boy)

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was quite nice.  A darker wrapper with an ever-so-slight sheen, this cigar actually had a nice, maduro-like-but-silky wrapper.  Early Edicion Limitada program cigars were (and sometimes still are) characterized by thick, heavy, fire-retardant wrapper leaves.  In the early years of the EL program, it was only the wrapper leaves that were aged for at least 2 years (as opposed to 6-12 months usually), but all EL releases since about 2007, if I recall correctly, have all tobaccos used aged to at least this 2 year mark (my Trinidad Ingenios EL 2007 were part of the start of this).

This cigar’s only real blemish I could find, construction-wise, was one small water spot on the wrapper – and, while it’s noticeable on the darker wrapper, it does NOTHING to affect the performance of the cigar, nor my scoring on construction.  The foot itself was also very nicely bunched and arranged, and the colour palate to the rich tobaccos within were wonderful – a great “mixing” evident in there.  No hard or soft spots – construction-wise, this thing was in the Goldilocks zone!

After clipping the head, taking some cold draws….mmmm, rich black tea with a honey tinge.  Almost a dark element there – old leather perhaps?

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the opening had a perfect draw and smoke volumes – took to flame and lit well.  Light wispy smoke, but fairly potent and powerful – big hits of earth and leather.  No “Cohiba-ness” to it at all (not surprising, with the EL thing).

First Third:  Into the first third, I noticed that the burn was easily transitioning the burning cigar to darker charcoal-coloured ash, which was somewhat soft and flakey.  The smoke wasn’t creamy or overly viscous.  Thin smoke, but some decently potent flavours there.  Sitting just above the medium mark on boldness, but just below on potency.  Some mild black pepper on the retrohale, but lots of leather and earth on the tongue.  Some dark black tea in there too.

While the smoke itself was thin, I was still getting big smokey mouthfuls when pulled on.  Blue smoke off the burnt end, pure white, almost fog-like smoke on the exhale from the mouth, and mildly-dark grey charcoal ash – this thing was a colour palate.

Second Third:  Into the second third, it was continuing along somewhat similarly.  Burn was continuing to be fairly wonky, but no so bad as to need a torch correction.  Mild leather stepping back now, hmmm….

Big, rich, smokey honey tinges.  Almost to a slightly darkened-but-not-quite-burnt caramel tone.  Yup – rich, dark, unfiltered, smoke-riddled honey.  Man, it blended so nice with the mild leather and earthiness of this cigar.

Almost got hints of old hay, swinging in and out of the dark honey hits – when one faded out, the other one stepped in.

Final Third:  Into the final third, similar to the second in burn qualities.  Needed to do some torch touch-ups – the burn just wouldn’t find that razor’s edge.  The honey and hay sweetness started to subside, and then gave way to a flow right back to the old leather and earthiness, this time accompanied by that dark black tea essence in full stride.

Smoked this puppy right down.  Deeee-lish.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar was a treat.  A much-needed, wanted, and enjoyed treat.  The wonky burn and such deflected a few points, and parts of it were a bit more bland than others, but without that nice, potent perfumy aspect that I find so lovely with aged cigars in the 10-15+ year range.  Was hoping to get that with this one, and it lost out on not having that present.

All that said…

Price justification (either for this cigar as a single or as a box currently)???

No, not really.  While I was glad to purchase it as some of my planned money outlay at the charity auction, it wasn’t a dollar-performer for me.  Still a wonderful experience nonetheless, and whether it cost me $20 or $200 wouldn’t have affected the score allotted for this singular smoking experience.  It’s just one to be scratched off the list, so to speak.



While there were some dark honey qualities hiding in the experience, there was no Cohiba-esque-ness (if that’s a word, LOL) to this cigar for me.  None of that lemongrass and beaniness to it (vanilla bean, light coffee bean).  While there was honey in strides, the leather and earthiness took away from that a bit for me.

And, I have to say, with the overall flavours as it came across my palate, mixed in with the hay tinges, I couldn’t help but think:  My gawd, this should be labelled as a Trinidad Piramides!!!

It got me to thinking – now, THAT is a blend that could really work well in a piramides.  Amazing that they haven’t done that yet, in adding a pyramid to the Trinidad line – but, then again, it’s perhaps not that surprising given their past actions in butchering the line apart, discontinuing the Trinidad Robustos T that many loved so much (and only after a minimal time on the market), and their current actions in loveless quality control that’s been going on with Trinidad in recent years (its sooooo hard to find decent boxes of Fundadores lately!)

But, a great experience nonetheless, but to see this blend with a Trinidad label on it would strike me as more in keeping than with the Cohiba band.

Final Score:  93

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 25 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  November 27th, 2014; lit up at 1:40 pm, done at 3:05 pm

Paired Beverage:  El Dorado 12 & Coke

Last Meal:  Three cheese hamburger helper, 12:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Mild wind, overcast, 1 degree Celsius, 73% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.