Tag Archives: cigar reviews

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’…

IMG_7642

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.

Cigar Review – Partagas Piramides EL 2000, Nov 2000 “RAR” box code; Final Score – 88

Got another review here today.  This is a traded stick from a great BOTL, and a fellow CF member to boot.

He and I have done a number of trades now, and these were included a couple times before.  These Partagas Piramides were the first of H S.A.’s Edicion Limitada program, and as was the standard at the time, were cigars that were not in the normal portfolio of the brands chosen (the top 5 Habanos brands), and were made using wrapper leaves aged at least 2 years (which is longer than normal, and in later years of the program, this changed to being all leaves being used aged to this minimum).

Past their prime though?  Let’s see…

Reviewed Cigar:  Partagas Piramides LE 2000

Box Date:  Nov 2000

Factory / Manufacture Code:  RAR

Packaging:  25-box, standard dress box

Price per cigar:  N/A (trade; from Bahrain Ritz-Carlton)

Length:  6 1/8″, or 156 mm

Ring Gauge:  52

Format:  Piramides

Weight:  14 grams / 0.5 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  These are a slightly rustic, mangy looking cigar.  They have that circa-early-2000’s Partagas wrapper – leathery, wrinkled, bark-like in appearance, but with a lovely toasted tobacco aroma.  These early EL’s don’t seem to have quite the level of wrapper that’s been used in more recent years.  That said, the wrapper on this one wasn’t too bad – it was slightly dull and matte-looking, but this piramide was nicely symetrical and had some beautiful bunching to it.  There were some slighly veiny spots, but no soft or hard spots – the weight and construction of it felt quite nice.

After clipping the head, the draw on this was slightly more resistive than I wished for.  At cold, there were hints of old wood, all-spice, and a tinge of anise root / black licorice.  Hmmmm – interesting…

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the draw was actually quite nice when lit.  There wasn’t a ton of smoke with this, and it wasn’t overly viscous on the palate.  Slightly citric-acidity there on the taste profile.  Smell of fine and overly-dried herbs burning.

First Third:  Into the first third, this showed some hints of pepper on the couple of retrohales I gave this cigar, but it was extremely finite.  This cigar was very minimal on the powerhouse presence of pepper that my last one of these had (to the best of my recollection – my Cigar Dossier is packed up somewhere).

Frankly, I was already a bit disappointed with this cigar at this point.  I was hoping for a bit more.  It seemed to be looking at me, longing to be smoked, leaving me eagerly anticipating that which would come to pass.  But…meh.  There was a dark, old wood tone in there – almost like an old chunk of walnut wood was slowly being burned.  A fragrant-ness that was there, but not of the blowing-your-socks-off-kind.  And, since that wasn’t there, that aged refinement that some cigars get, gloriously aged LGC, QdO, old-school Monte or HdM, this cigar just simply didn’t have that there either.  Almost like the seco leaf, which imbibes that in a cigar that’s aged for a decade or longer, almost like it was forgot to be put in this cigar.  There was none of that perfumey, tea-like, aromatic class to this cigar.  And, being a Partagas, I was really hoping for one or the other.

Second Third:  Into the second third, things somewhat continued.  I began to notice that the burn was not impeccable.  I had to do a number of relights, and if I left the cigar alone for more than a minute, it easy petered out.  Got me thinking it was kinda like a hot date gone wrong – and if I left her alone for more than a moment, she’d wither away and die on me.  Got to be that feeling that it was almost a chore to keep her entertained.  Gawd, I hate that!

But then…

Some improvement!

About mid-way through the cigar, started to get a tinge of candied orange peel.  That citrus, sour, orange rind tone, being smacked back and forth on my palate by some wet, aged, old leather.  The smoke’s lack of viscousness continued.  Beautiful, rich, white ash.  Minimal smoke between puffs, but a decent amount with each pull.

And suddenly…

White pepper.  Ahhhhhh!  Just a few hints of it, fading in and out, but it was there.  Not the dense pepper that I was hoping to get, but it was showing up for the event finally.

Final Third:  Into the final third, it just kept growing and carrying on from the middle of the cigar.  White pepper, sour preserved orange rind, dark walnut wood smoldering in the fireplace, some wet leather drying over the hearth.

Damn, this was starting to get better and better.  Then…it was done.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  I wish the whole cigar was like the 2nd half.  This was almost a night and day cigar; like two cigars wrapped in the same wrapper.  I was thinking in the first half about how 14 years might have been too much for this blend, how it’s Partagas essence might be all but evaporated into the hands of time.  But then, the 2nd half of the cigar made me a believer again.  If it was all like that, man, with the aged refinement hopefully coming into play more, it could have been wonderful.

Alas, it was just what it was.

Final Score:  88

Total Smoking Time:  1 hr and 35 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  November 9th, 2014; lit up at 3:50 pm, done at 5:25 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Meat & cheese cracker plate lunch, w/ elk meat summer sausage, 12:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  Climate-controlled garage, 21 degrees Celsius, 72% RH

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

Some blog and online shout outs…

In getting this blog going, I’d like to make a few shout outs for some cigar-resources and blogs already out in cyberspace.

These are some various (mostly cigar-related) blogs and whatnot run by some good friends and acquaintances in the cigar world.  Each and every one of them have their own styles, their own individual aspects and backgrounds that they’re able to bring to the cigar world.  Some may be more active than others, but all have influenced the cigar world and me myself in one way or another over the years (and hopefully they all continue to do so in the future).  I think mostly all of these guys I’ve been able to trade cigars with, and even share many good cigars and drinks and great times with in person as well – they’re all good friends.  Whether their reviewing styles match up with your own palate/choices or not, these guys are some true “brothers of the leaf”…

  • The ‘Dirty’ Ashes:  http://thedirtyashes.wordpress.com/ – this is a great blog solely on cigar reviews by a good local friend here in Canada, Art Sanchez.  Similar to most of us, myself included, he follows the “usual” cigar-review format (pre-light inspection, first-, second-, and final-thirds, as well as a final impressions).  His pictures are great (including his nicely manicured hands!), and the flow of his reviews are very clear, concise, and all-encompassing.
  • Nino’s Flying Cigar:  http://flyingcigar.de/ – this is a well-known blog that’s been around for many years and run by Nino Muñoz out of Germany, my Spanish/German conquistador friend-slash-adoptive-uncle-slash-das-German-curmudgeon.  A very insightful fellow.  Like him or hate him (as recently some do unfortunately, out of some online spite lately over the upcoming Min Ron Nee encyclopaedia update / v 2.0), he’s brought a wealth of insider’s-views and knowledge to the online Cuban cigar world.  From great write-ups to some awesome photo spreads, he’s recounted us for years about some amazing cigar experiences while travelling the world and going to wonderful places with varying gastronomic experiences, as a recently retired (lucky bastard!) former banker and porter from Lufthansa Airlines.  Though some of his own personal posts have taken a backseat lately to the posts of some other close friends of his during his blog “retirement”, this blog has an extensive archive and wealth of knowledge from over the years, and hopefully will continue to be around for many, many years yet.
  • The Cuban House of Cigars:  http://www.cubanhouseofcigars.com/ – this online blog / review site is the work of another good friend, Simon, as well as with Antonio (the manager for LCDH Montreal).  Simon’s put together a great blog and cigar review webpage here, in cohorts with LCDH Montreal as a business venture as well.  Though he’s just a young buck (don’t touch his hair!), he’s definitely got a way with words, and they’ve put up some great cigar reviews and some insightful looks into the events  and special goings-on of a wonderful LCDH that we all love to go to (great staff, and an awesome lounge – something that’s a rare occurrence in today’s non-smoking bylaw environment in Canada).  Simon’s a great guy, an old-soul in that kiddo (loves good jazz and other music too!), and his blog is one that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Also, I’d like to mention few other resources here, mostly that I’ve become knowledgeable of (and also usually become personal friends with) through the cigar community at-large as well.  From coffee to book-learning, these are some great folks as well.  Now, I’m specifically not going to mention cigar retailers here.  There are lots of lists around the internet for that, so I don’t need to rehash about how or where to buy cigars online – there’s some great various primers out there, mostly on the various cigar forums on the internet.  But these are some great resources to also save the bookmarks for…

  • Friends of Habanos forum [FOH]:  http://www.friendsofhabanos.com/forum/ – the FOH forum is a damn fine one.  It’s the only cigar forum that I waste my precious time on!  Run out of Australia through an online cigar vendor, the FOH forum itself has an amazing cigar community attached to it.  A great place for respectful discussions of nearly all kinds, it’s run without the vitriol or “flame wars” that some online forums can unfortunately suffer from.  Be sure to check out FOH’s YouTube channel here for some great video cigar reviews – even if they are hilariously disfunctional sometimes!  And as long as Rob keeps my PSP list regularly stocked, I’ll be a happy camper, whether Ken (lovingly?!) regularly refers to us as “seal bashers” or not!
  • Canadian Cigar Forum [CCF]:  http://canadacigarforum.com – while only around for a few years, the CCF forum is a great one too.  Obviously Canadian-centric, it’s another great group of guys and gals.  While I’m not personally a member of this forum, I’ve met a number of the members from it at local events (as Canadians from FOH and CCF frequently get together locally), and it’s a stellar group as well.
  • Cuban Cigar Website:  http://www.cubancigarwebsite.com/ – one of the best resources on the internet for information, measurements, pictures, years-of-availability, and packaging explanations for Cuban cigars, bar none.  The information presented here usually far surpasses even that which Habanos S.A. releases through its own “official” channels.  Started back in 2006 or so by Trevor Leask, it’s mostly being run lately by Alexander Groom (some awesome blokes from Australia).  A number of items that could previously only be found in the Min Ron Nee book “An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars” can also be found here, through a co-operative arrangement (very useful if you don’t happen to have a copy of that tome).  CCW for years has been the most kept-up-to-date and authoritative resources around on Cuban cigars – just phenomenal.  Please, as a member of this community, please also remember to donate to help with the costs of running this non-commercial / non-profit and invaluable resource, and to keep it around for years yet.
  • Yul Cigars:  http://yulcigars.blogspot.ca/ – one of the best Cuban price-list resources around, for those travelling to the island.  Run out of Montreal by another great BOTL, this list is fairly regularly updated / accuracy-checked and is pretty much the most comprehensive of MSRP-style prices at the state-run stores in Cuba (be it LCDH stores, Caracol outlets, factory shops, etc.)
  • Habanos S.A.:  http://www.habanos.com – well, they make the cigars we all love (well, they’re the distribution conglomerate anyways), so their webpage sometimes does come in handy for information and size format particulars.  More of a marketing tool than information resource, the English needs interpretation to comprehend, but they still are a resource that’s out there.  Their warranty-seal barcode checker is accurate about as much as a rookie weatherman, but it is a neat party favour.
  • Rocketfuel Coffee:  http://www.rocketfuelcoffee.com/ – my wife and I love Lisa’s custom joe blends.  A great sister-of-the-leaf as well.  You really get some amazing coffees for a great price with some inexpensive shipping.  If it’s not Cuban coffees (Cafe Serrano or Cubita) in my cup, generally it’s one of Rocketfuel Coffee’s blends – the Jamaican Blue Mountain, the pure Hawaiian Kona, and the Konakazee blend (Kona and expresso beans) are all awesome.  While I’m not mentioning cigar-related vendors here specifically, I’m mentioning this due to a cup of Lisa’s coffee being a perfect pairing (if you’re not having rum other other booze) to compliment a great cigar.

So, there’s a few of my most used and respected online resources and such.  Obviously, by no means is this anywhere near all encompassing or comprehensive.  And, if I neglected to mention a particular blog or webpage, in no way is this meant as a slight or negative – it’s just that the above have the “flavour” that best matches my wants and needs, and are some of both my most used, as well as the generally most respected within the cigar community.

Hopefully, some of the above can come of some use to you, if you weren’t aware of them before.

Cheers all.

[September 12th, 2014]