Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label

6x50 "Generosos"

This well known toro size cigar features a good looking dark brown wrapper, with a few rough looking veins scattered about. The seams are straight and tight, and the triple cap which Garcia has become known for using on everything he makes looks absolutely perfect. All three lines are literally razor sharp. The leaf is toothy but not really at all oily. It has a tough, dry leathery feel to it that I kind of like. It has a wonderful earthy and floral aroma off the foot, with a little spice to make my nose tickle if I sniff too deeply of it. The pack is perfect, having just the right amount of soft give to it, with no particularly soft spots, and certainly no areas that feel hard to the touch. Let's get her cut and see what she tastes like. Cold draw is perfect. Just a slight resistance. Taste is floral, earthy, and has a mild cocoa sweetness.

Lit at 2:55

Initially there is a big blast of pepper, followed by cocoa and sweet tobacco, and then a lot of pepper comes back on the finish, and lingers for a good long while. Draw is great, and produces a respectable amount of smoke.

In the first third, the ash holds well, and is a bright white color. The burn line isn't razor sharp, but it is definitely straight. The flavors aren't super complex or changing at all at this point, but they are good and bold. There is a nice bitter cocoa and coffee flavor, leaving a good deal of sweetness on the palette going into the spicy pepper finish. Ash falls for the first time about one inch in.

Just prior to the beginning of the second third, the sweetness has come up a little and the pepper has gotten slightly milder. There is a woody note that has developed on the draw that compliments the sweet cocoa nicely. Another inch into the second third and there is a hint of cinnamon dancing around, which is delicious with the cocoa. I'm starting to feel a tiny amount of strength, nothing unpleasant, but it is definitely there.

Getting into the final third everything is getting creamy, and thick feeling in the mouth. The cocoa is lessened a bit, but there is a sweet earthy tobacco, and the pepper still lingers smoothly on the finish. The cinnamon is still noticeable, but has never become more than a faint hint here and there. A roasted nutty flavor that is a little bitter dominates through the nose. Not sure if it is just a symptom of the stick getting hot, or if it is the tobacco itself.

Ended at 4:15pm, for a total smoke time of one hour twenty minutes. Perhaps my only complaint about this stick is the rate at which it burned, which was a little fast. That said, these cigars are almost bargain bin priced (I've seen them as low as $5 US each) which is absolutely outstanding for a great tasting, perfectly constructed cigar that certainly deserves to bear the name it does. The strength is a little full, but for most smokers these days, full bodied smokes are nothing new or unusual. Highly recommended, and at the right price this would be more than an outstanding daily type cigar.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pinar Del Rio Oscuro

5x50 Robusto

The PDR Oscuro features a Dominican Habano seed Oscuro wrapper. It is one of the oiliest and toothiest wrappers I have ever seen on any stick. It has a very deep dark chocolate color to it that appears totally natural (it is very dark... but not black!) It has a very slick looking oil sheen to it that is also quite nice looking. The seams appear tight. The double cap looks good and solid as well. There are no real veins tangible. I say tangible because all cigar wrappers are going to have veins, but it is the big protruding veins that you can really touch and feel that cause problems, not the tiny network of smaller veins that run over every leaf regardless of quality. The foot gives off a deep earthy aroma with a bit of peppery spice as well. Cold draw is slightly loose, in a good way, and full of chocolate and sweet, mellow tobacco.

Lit at 5:41pm

From the get go there is a good sweet tobacco flavor, and a mellow pepper. The mouth feel is very oily and thick. The smoke production is good, very easy going with a loose draw. There might be a little coffee somewhere, but it isn't really defined enough yet.

In the first third the burn line is pretty wavy. No real problem areas yet, but something to keep an eye on. The ash displays every last little toothy bump that was present on the wrapper, which is cool. The pepper on the finish has come up a little bit, providing a nice counterpoint to the sweet, dessert like tobacco taste that dominates otherwise. The smoke production has steadily gotten better as well, and you would never know how loose the draw is, based on the major amounts of smoke this cigar spews forth.

As things progress into the second third, the ash has fallen for the first time, at close to two inches, which is impressive. Pepper has continued to grow gradually and now makes for a lengthy, spicy finish, after a sweet leathery tobacco from the draw. The mouthfeel is still impressively thick and oily. Some cocoa washes in and out over the course of the finish as well. It is a creamy sweet taste. The burn line has also straightened out well. The heat near the burn has made all sorts of oils and tooth become even more apparent near the surface. Yum!

The flavors so far have been pretty straight forward, but very rich, and enjoyable. Not a lot of changes, but rather, consistent in a very good way. Not boring, but rather quite bold and dessert like (I know I already said that, but it is true) in how it feels overall. Ash has continued to hold on, getting into the final third it has only fallen once so far. Impressive. Of course as soon as I type that the ash falls (about an inch and a half of it) all over my shirt and lap. Karma.

Ended at 7:20pm for a total smoke time of One hour and thirty-nine minutes, which is about perfect for a robusto. No problems with construction or performance. Overall this was a great stick, really deep flavor and feel to it that would make it a wonderful choice for a smoke after a hearty dinner, or to wind down after a big day. Good stuff

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Oscuro


4 1/2x50 "Coffee Break"

Cigar Aficionado, the "lifestyle" zine that catches a lot of heat, named this the #25 best cigar of 2009. Regardless of anyone's personal opinions of CA, their top 25 lists usually contain some damn fine cigars. This small robusto features a really dark wrapper, with a perfect triple cap (this cigar, coincidentally, is made my Don Pepin Garcia at the My Father factory in Nicaragua), and great seams. There are a few large veins on the surface that are a little ugly. Hopefully they will not be a problem, and are purely an aesthetic problem. The foot has a woody, spicy aroma that reminds me of a few other cigars that Don Pepin makes. It is a very rich, and meaty aroma. The pack is firm, and has no soft spots. The cold draw is spicy, and dirty, with a fair amount of earthy and wet wood flavors.

Lit at 10:58pm.

The spicy cold draw belies the earthy, cocoa and roasted nuttiness of the initial flavors. There is a light, smooth pepper on the finish, that moves slyly over the palette, never becoming more than a hint of a sensation. Smoke production is phenomenal, producing great tufts of billowing white smoke.

Through the first third the burn line has some waves, with a bit of a canoe starting on one side. A quick touch up fixed that. Ironically, the canoe started on the side completely opposite from the largest vein visible, thus proving that veins are not the only cause of such burn oddities. Flavors are smooth, and creamy on the palette. Earthy wood and roasted nuts are the predominant flavors I am tasting at this point. There is a slight sweetness as well. Not exactly cocoa, but earthy, and possibly a little bit of a sweet cedar. The finish is long and combines a sweetness with a smooth, mellow pepper tingle. Very pleasant, easy going, but rich cigar. Ash has held on for over an inch now, almost through the entire third, but it starting to split from top to bottom, like it wants to flower. I will probably be rolling it within the next few draws anyway, so no matter.

In the second third, things are still slightly sweet, but getting sweeter. The roasted nut flavor is becoming particularly pronounced, and has a very creamy feel to it that is really nice. So far this would be a great dessert stick. Things have stayed very smooth, and continue to do so. For a rich, earthy cigar, this thing is as comfortable to smoke as any super premium mild cigar.

As the final third begins, what was a deep earthy flavor becomes head on cocoa, sweet, and slightly bitter like fine dark chocolate. The spice on the finish still lingers smoothy, and lasts for a while. Put my usual clip in it to keep smoking once it gets too small to hold. I only wish this thing was a bigger stick!

Ended at 12:02 for a smoke time of exactly one hour. Perhaps this should be renamed the "Lunch Hour" vitola. Fantastic smoke. Lots of flavor packed into a perfectly built little package. Strength is not really noticeable, in nicotine terms. Spice is noticeable, but not overwhelming. Lots of great dessert like qualities to be found here. This cigar will definitely be earning a spot in my personal humidor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Padron 1964 Anniversary Natural

4.5x46 "Principe"

This small, well box pressed cigar is one of those sticks that everyone knows and is a classic smoke by many standards. The wrapper leaf, in typical Padron fashion, is oddly wrinkled, and honestly kind of ugly. It is a dark caramel color, and has no real visible veins without very close inspection. The seams are virtually invisible, as is the shoulder line. The pack is very dense, and despite being a pretty small stick, it has some definite heft to it. The feel is firm, and has no hard or soft spots, or lumps. The band is attractive, and well... classic, given the reputation that this cigar has. The aroma off the unlit cigar is a very rich, old humidor smell. Lots of aged, cured tobacco. The pre-light draw is slightly loose, and tastes heavily of old tobacco and wood. This cigar tastes how your Grandfather's old cigars smelled when you were a little kid digging around in his humidor...

Lit at 4:51pm

Right away there is a rich earthy tobacco flavor, accompanied by a pepper that sits far back on the tongue. Smoke production is out of this world, especially for a stick that is pretty small. Finish is impressive and lengthy.

Getting about ten minutes into the first third, the pepper is really heavy, with a strong tingling burn that moves in waves across the palette. The flavor is still an earthy, rich tobacco. The finish lasts forever, lingering, tingling, pepper and spice through the entire ambient non-draw period. Burn line is wavy and generally uneven, which in my experience seems to be a symptom typical of heavily box-pressed cigars like this one. It hasn't required a touch up yet, but may soon. Ash is chunky and dark, and looks awesome. The "stacks" are very visible, and particularly thick.

Ash fell for the first time just prior to the start of the second third, shy of an inch and a half. Flavors have started to change a little as well. Pepper has come down significantly, and is now just one element of a more complex profile, that includes nuts, wood, spice, and aged tobacco. The burn line has straightened itself out quite a bit as well. Shortly past the half way point, the mouth feel has gone from heavy and chewy to slightly creamy, with the addition of a little bit of vanilla flavor.

In the final third things are getting a little warm temperature wise, but the flavor is just out of this world. Nothing really new coming forward yet, but everything is just getting heavier, and richer, and more dessert-like in decadent quality. Put a clip in it to hold it and keep smoking at the one hour point.

Ended at 6:00pm, for a total burn time of one hour 9 minutes. Not particularly long, but given the box press, this cigar was actually probably smaller than the 46 ring gauge it began life as. Draw remained perfect the entire time. Flavors never took a down turn and only got more intense and complex as it progressed. I definitely recommend this cigar to anyone and everyone who wants a good, short cigar to relax with.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño

4.7x60 "Pesadilla" Belicoso

This short, fat belicoso... that looks extremely short and fat, features an appropriately dark corojo habano seed wrapper that is just seeped in oil. It has a smooth surface, with very little vein structure visible. The pack is pretty good, with a few spongy spots, but overall it feels fairly dense, and is definitely heavy as heck. The regular Antano line is apparently descended from the original JdN Antano, and was the first cigar produced in a factory commercially in Nicaragua. The Dark Corojo has an extra fermented Corojo wrapper, and it actually SMELLS spicy which bodes well for the strength and robustness of this little guy. The foot has a spicy, earthy aroma that reminds me of Old Bay seasoning actually which is cool. The cold draw is spicy as heck, with both cedar and cocoa present.

Lit at 11:10pm.

The really large ring gauge made for a slightly clumsy light. Once everything is even and burning, the draw is perfect. Just a slight resistance. Smoke production is great as well, and there is even a fair amount of ambient smoke off the foot. The flavors right off the bat are deep and earthy. There is a sort of mocha flavor, combining both bitter dark chocolate and bitter roasted coffee bean. It's not a sour flavor, but a bitter bite. The finish is woody with a lingering smooth spice over the palette.

In the first third the cocoa flavor has diminished a bit, replaced by a rich woody flavor, and a continued peppery finish. Not a burning, hot pepper, but a smooth mellow white pepper across the palette. The finish is somewhat dry, but the mouthfeel is heavy and oily. It makes me want to take a sip of water after almost every draw. As I sort of expected, the huge ring gauge is making for some funny burning, and will probably require a few touch ups to keep everything going smoothly. So far I have hit one spot quickly with the lighter, but nothing bad. About an inch in the ash is flowering a little bit, but that isn't a problem, just a pure aesthetic complaint on my part as a picky old sourpuss.

Since the start of the second third things have been getting steadily spicier. The flavor is primarily a sweet earthy tobacco, with a slight coffee bitterness, and an increasingly peppery finish. Interesting. In my experience, when pepper and spice comes back in most sticks it is towards the end if it was present initially and then disappeared. This stick is getting stronger and spicier much earlier than most. I like! I have found that this cigar also likes to either be drawn on more often, or with a series of quick back to back draws in order to get the wrapper burning all the way around its fat foot. This particular vitola would be very forgiving to the faster smoker, or someone who tends to draw more often than they should. Ash holds on for roughly an inch, and falls off in a big, fat, firm clump that remains pristine even after falling onto the ashtray.

A quarter inch past the halfway point a pretty large tear has suddenly developed from about a half inch from the head up for almost an inch. It seems to be only the wrapper that has been compromised, so it isn't affecting the smoke at all. Hopefully it won't cause any problems. Having now smoked into the torn area, it isn't causing any problems with the draw or smoke, but the stick is sort of swelling up making the tear get wider. There isn't but about an inch and a half left so I'm not worried about it, and it isn't affecting the flavor or anything. Strength has ramped up a good deal in this last third as well. For the first two thirds the strength was not noticeable really, or was overwhelmed by the flavor and general heaviness of the smoke. Now in the final third it is finally getting up there.

Ended at 12:40am, for a total burn time of one hour thirty minutes. Overall this was a great example of a typical Nicaraguan powerhouse. Lots of earthy richness and heavy on the peppery spice. Oily mouthfeel and thick smoke make this a good full experience. I would like to see how a smaller ring gauge would affect the burn and flavor. Not overly complex, but what is present is very good. Good smoke.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

La Riqueza #3

5.6x46 "#3"

Another line offered from Pete Johnson and Tatuaje, produced under the watchful eye of Don Pepin Garcia, La Riqueza is also another mark saved from the wrath of history, an ancient Cuban brand, resurrected by Johnson and his apparent love of all things old, cuban, and made of tobacco.

This corona gorda sized stick features a matte dark chocolate wrapper, with very few veins, and a tough leathery feel to it. The coloration is not exactly flawless or even, but the construction looks great. Solid triple cap, smooth, tight seams, and... actually it does feel a little light, like it may be slightly underfilled. The aroma is both chocolatey and spicy... almost like cumin. Pre-light draw is initially sweet, but also has hints of spice, and leaves a little zing on the tongue.

Lit at 10:34pm.

Right away the flavors are earthy, with a little cocoa and espresso, followed by a big peppery finish that really slaps you across the mouth.

Smoke production in the first third is sort of unimpressive. I think this is in largepart due to the looseness of the draw. The flavors are very thick, earthy and chewy. There is even a musty old leather flavor through the nose that is very nice. Not something I taste very often, but when I do, it is a good sign. The pepper on the finish of most cigars would have slowed down by now, but this suck is still like chewing hot wings even at an inch or more in. Ash looks choppy and flakey but has held on so far.

Getting into the second third I'm noticing that despite not exactly being a small ring, this cigar needs to be babied and smoked in much the same way as many smaller cigars, requiring more frequent, but less drastic draws to stay lit properly. With the right balance though, it is still proving to be very rewarding. The burn line is wavy, but not bad. The flavors in the second third are fairly dry on the palette, no oil or creaminess. Woody, earthy, and spicy are all still the adjectives on the board for this guy right now. Draw has firmed up a little, and smoke production has taken a directly related stance.

Around the start of the final third things are getting a little bitter on the palette. Still mostly earthy and spicy, but there is a bitterness on the draw that isn't the best flavor... The ash has also been kind of a pain in the rear, making a bit of a mess when it doesn't quite make it to the ash tray. The flakiness of it also results in random bit and pieces dropping off at nonsensical intervals. I have had to touch the burn line up a few times to prevent tunneling or canoeing also. With about an inch and a half left a huge wave of pepper comes onto the finish, unlike the medium, smooth pepper previously present. ZING.

Ended at 12:13am, for a total burn time of almost one hour forty minutes. Good time for a corona gorda. Unfortunately I just cannot justify this cigar based on cost next to other blends in the Tatuaje lineup. If this were a $5 or $6 smoke, it would be perfect, but at $9 it just does not perform the way it should in my opinion. Decent flavors, but nothing too complex. This cigar also has some strength to it. Nothing unwieldy, but it is noticeable. Over all, good, not great.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Partagas Serie D. No. 4

4 7/8x50 Robusto

This is my first CC/ISOM/Habano/whatever other name you want to use for them. I am excited, but have also decided to try to keep my expectations reasonable. This is more a special cigar because of certain well known issues. It is actually a fairly reasonably priced, and actually even inexpensive cigar for it's country of origin. I have no idea of the box code or date for this particular stick, so I have decided to just go ahead and burn one, and save the rest for later, so I have a starting point for future comparison on this batch.

The PSDN4 features a caramel brown wrapper with slight stretching marks, and minimal veins. The foot gives an aroma of grass and hay, with a slight sweet tobacco, and a faint barnyard quality. The cold draw is full of cedar, earth, and a slight grass. Draw is medium, not too loose, but certainly not full, which is a relief, given the horror stories I have heard about Habanos having draw issues.

Lit at 11:01pm.

Right away there is a great mix of cedar, very rich in character, and earthy as well, with a spicy finish. The cedar isn't exactly like any I have previously tasted, as it has a fuller, less sweet, more earthy character to it.

Things are progressing nicely in the first third. The burn line is even. Not razor sharp, but slightly wavy, with no major dips or peaks. Ash is a cool looking grey and black... lots of black. More than on any cigar I've smoked before. Apparently, based on my research, Cuban tobacco tends to burn blacker than most. Interesting. There is a slight "young" character to this cigar. The flavors, aside from the earthy cedar, are a little grassy, and I'm not sure if that is a result of not having enough box age, or if the PSDN4 is just a little grassy in general. The spice on the finish is great, and full, but right there in the middle, between the draw, and the onset of the spicy finish is a slight grassiness that I can't quite place. Not a bad thing though, just interesting.

Ash rolled for the first time before getting to the second third. Held on for over an inch, and held well when rolled off. Mouthfeel is creamy and the smoke itself is somewhat sultry. Smoke production is great. A light "sip" of a draw results in a pretty sizable plume. The creamy mouth feel is starting to translate into a slight vanilla bean flavor. I say vanilla bean, because there is a slight nuttiness to the vanilla flavor. Spicy heat on the finish has sort of disappeared.

Around the half way mark there is a small crack in the wrapper that is causing a little bit of a weird burn as a result in that spot. Just before the final third starts there is a flavor that reminds me of roasted almonds that is really heavy on the back of the palette coming in. It is downright awesome.

In the final third, the burn line requires a couple of touch ups to keep the wrapper going properly for some reason. The spice on the finish has ramped up a little as well. Getting into the last inch and a half, everything has sort of come full circle. Cedar, spice, and nuts dominate at the end, all very rich and creamy.

Ended at 12:36am for a total burn time of exactly one hour thirty-five minutes. For a Habano that I have no idea of the age on, I was impressed with how this guy performed. Great flavors, no real issues with construction or burn, and all in all, a fantastic, well rounded cigar. Very excited to see where these go with a year, two years, etc. on them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kristoff Criollo Ligero

7x50 Churchill

The massive Kristoff Ligero Churchill is certainly an imposing smoke to look at. It has an interesting shaggy closed foot, and a very tightly wound pigtail. The wrapper is very oily, almost leaving a slick residue on your fingertips when holding it. The veins are all smooth and well distributed. Seams all look good too. Despite the pigtail, I have opted for a regular guillotine cut, for the sake of consistent reviewing conditions.

The foot gives off less aroma due to the closed style it takes, but has a faintly salty element to it that is interesting. The cold draw is firm, and gives hints of cedar and sweet tobacco.

Lit at 6:39pm.

Right away the flavors present are bold. There is a solid, sweet tobacco, with a hint of smooth cedar, followed by a big peppery blast on the finish that is very fulfilling. The closed foot has caused some weird burning for about the first half inch, but past that it has smoothed out. The draw is also a little tight, but I think that too has to do with the wrapping. When sitting idle, this monster stick just burns away, jetting off cool looking wisps of blue and white smoke. Very good start.

Based on the rate this guy is burning, it's going to last over 2 hours at least, which I hope for... About an inch and a half in, everything is going well. Pepper has settled back to a dull hint on the finish, which is long an very oily. Ash is tight, and dark in color... sort of brown actually. Interesting.

By the end of the first third it is clear that this is a strong smoke. Already feeling it in my gut and my head, though the smoke itself is very smooth. The mouth feel is still really oily, and the flavors are still very wood-centric.

In the second third a sweet nutty flavor dominates so far. It is almond like in nature, with a slight bitterness on the finish. The burn line has progressed swimmingly, requiring only one touch up so far.

Just want to go ahead and mention the rate this thing is burning again... It is now 8:15pm, and I am only just past the halfway point of this cigar. It's a good thing I have nothing to do this fine Sunday evening. I was planning to cook dinner when I finished this thing, figuring it would be a little after 8 when it finally wound down... not the case by a long shot. Everything is also still going fine. Flavor is still cedar, with an oily feel, and a cool nut flavor.

At this point my laptop actually was going to die, it had been off the charger for so long, so I grabbed a sketch I had in the truck, and took notes on the bottom of the page until the end...

Around the middle of the final third a really strong, aromatic cedar is taking over through the nose, and the mouth feel has gone from oily to almost creamy in texture. Everything has gotten richer, and the body has ramped up significantly. The draw finally opened up a bit in the final third as well. It was never problematic but it was just a solid firm the whole way up to this point. Overall the ash has become very flaky as/when it falls, shattering into a million pieces as it hits the ashtray. And finally, the best part of the entire cigar, perhaps, arrives in the last 2.5 inches or so... a very powerful, salty spice. Salty is not an adjective I often find myself using when describing cigars, but this one has it. Very cool.

Everything finally got hot and mushy (and I started to feel nicotine sick) at 9:18 pm which is utterly ridiculous for a cigar. Two hours and thirty-nine minutes total burn time. If nothing else, this cigar more than pays for itself in smoke time. There are also some good flavors to be had here. If you are looking for a full bodied smoke, and a salty taste on the palette (oh, and almost three hours of smoking) I definitely recommend you check out the Kristoff Criollo Ligero Churchill! Sayonara!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

EP Carrillo Short Run

4 7/8 x 50 "Populares"

The EP Carrillo brand is a new small batch line of cigars from the original creator of the La Gloria Cubana mark, one of the classic habanos. The Short Run is a limited production (1500 boxes/vitola) stick featuring a fine smelling Sumatran wrapper. The overall construction on this cigar is flawless. The wrapper has small veins that are all flat and smooth. The leaf itself is silky smooth to the touch, and is a light caramel color. The whole thing is held together by a good looking triple cap. Seams overall look very tight. The pack is dense, giving this little robusto size stick some deceptive heft to it. The aroma off the body is a distinct and pungent barnyard stench, that I personally am a big fan of. The foot smells similarly of hay and manure. The cold draw is slightly sweet and fruity. Worth mentioning that the cut is absolutely perfect on this, which in my opinion has just as much to do with the packing of the cigar as it does the sharpness of the cutter. I know my cutter is sharp (it is a relatively new Palio) but a poorly packed cigar can still produce a funky cut regardless of the cutter. This one is flawless.

Lit at 11:09pm.

Right off the bat the flavors are heavy on cream and roasted nut impressions. There is a little bit of woodiness on the finish as well. A small spicy kick washes through briefly on the finish, and then the nuts come back. Draw is also perfect. Just the right amount of resistance.

In the first third flavors are still roasted nuts, with the addition of a good coffee bean through the nose. The spice on the finish is distinctly cinnamon filled. The ash holds firmly and rolls off in a solid chunk at a good bit over one inch. Closer to 1.5 inches probably. Not any changes really in flavor as I approach the end of this third, but the flavors present are delicious, and plenty rich.

Early in the second third the nasal retrohale is starting to produce a slightly fruit like flavor reminiscent of the aroma present from the cold draw before lighting. A little further into the second third and the ash fell for the second time (nailing me, my lap, and seemingly everything within ten feet!) Unfortunately I noticed that the wrapper seems to be cracking opened near the burn line, for about a half inch back. Not causing any problems, but it is a little unsightly.

Just into the final third and things are progressing wonderfully. The burn line has been a little wavy off and on until now, but it is razor sharp at the moment. The crack in the wrapper seems to have been a momentary fluke, as it burned fine past it, and did not crack further. This is definitely a sort of "dry" feeling smoke. The mouthfeel is rich, and full, but leaves me parched, needing a sip of water after almost every draw. Flavors in the final third have abandoned the roasted nut flavor in favor of coffee, cinnamon, and a sweet, earthy tobacco.

Getting down to the nub things are getting pretty hot, and bitter. Just in the last inch or so. Nothing unusual. Ended at 12:43am, for a total burn time of one hour and 34 minutes, which is a great time for a 4 7/8x50 stick, and is a sign, in my opinion of a wonderfully built cigar. As for strength, it definitely sits at the fuller side of medium. Not an all stops pulled knockout full, but I certainly had a little bit of a buzz and even a little queasiness for a few minutes afterward. Small cigar. Long burn. Great flavors. Two thumbs up on this one. Oh, and the price is definitely right, at under $7!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

El Triunfador #4

by Tatuaje
5x48 "#4"

As I understand it, El Triunfador was at one time a Cuban cigar brand... long ago. Pete Johnson has purchased the right to produce under that name, and has blended, with Don Pepin Garcia, a Nicaraguan puro (like most of the Tatuaje lines) to release with the name and artwork from the original Cuban El Triunfadors. Originally this line was smaller, I believe maybe only available as a lancero vitola. Now there is a full range, of 6 sizes, including a lancero, along with 5 other, smaller vitolas. The largest is 6.5x42, which is not all that large compared to the massive rings that are so popular today.

The El Triunfador #4 is a slightly box pressed robusto with a medium brown Rosado Habano wrapper that shows very few veins. The stick is held together with an expertly constructed triple cap, appropriate for a Cuban tribute like this seems to be. The pack is a little loose, though I suspect some of that has to do with the box pressing process. Compared to a lot of the Tatuaje lines, the El Triunfadors are fairly low priced, hanging in the $6 to $8 range, which if it proves to be great flavorwise, will likely lead this to be a regular daily smoke for many. The body does not give off much aroma, aside from a slight tobacco. The foot however has a bold spiciness that in my experience is a sign of powerful, high quality Nicaraguan leaves. Cold draw gives a slightly cinnamon and chili pepper flavor, as well as good earthy tobacco. The draw is fairly loose. Seems to have just the right amount of resistance.

Lit at 8:45pm.

Initial flavors are bold and stress heavily roasted coffee beans, creamy tobacco, and a good pepper blast across the tongue. The finish is spicy and lasts a good time, leaving the palette tingling from the pepper and spice.

Through the whole of the first third the flavors are similar to those present from the get-go, though the pepper blast gradually falls back a bit. Cinnamon, and earthy tobacco, with a slight leather that appears make up the entire profile, with a finish that consists mostly of pepper and a little cedar woodiness.

Getting just into the second third flavors haven't changed really, but I have started to notice that on the draw there is a sort of sweetness to everything that is pretty nice. This cigar is billed as a mild-medium, where most Tatuaje offerings are much fuller, and it certainly is living up to that... sort of. While the strength seems to be non-existent, the flavors are definitely plenty bold and hard hitting. Pepper, leather, earth, and spice are not flavors I personally think of often when considering "mild" cigars. The burn line isn't straight, but it isn't presenting any problems either. It is sort of wavy, off and on. Of note is the speed with which this stick burns. I am at the halfway point about 35 minutes in, which for a $7 cigar is a little quick.

At the start of the final third things are getting a little warm already. The pepper heat and flavor are also coming back in full force, scalding my tongue with each draw. At exactly one hour, the nub that remains is getting too hot to hold, so I stuck a clip in it to keep smoking.

Ended at 9:55 for a total smoke time of one hour ten minutes, which is longer than it looked like it would be, as this stick seemed to burn very fast. Overall, the flavors were very good, rich and creamy, without ever becoming too strong, and without any real nicotine effects, which I guess is where this stick gets the label of being a milder stick. I enjoyed it, and would definitely buy more to have around for shorter smokes that still deliver complexity and boldness.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Padilla Dominus

5x50 Robusto

This stick is surely one of the most expensive extensions to the Padilla brand, which considers itself a true boutique company, releasing small numbers of high quality product with more concern for the product than the scale of production. Personally I am a fan of a lot of the cigars Padilla produces. I am sad to see that they have parted ways with Don Pepin Garcia, as he is certainly one of the great producers of fine premium cigars these days.

The Dominus features a very hearty, masculine presentation that is very appealing, even in this smaller size (though 5x50 is definitely one of my favorite vitolas, in any cigar) with its black, silver and red band, depicting a silver lion. The cigar itself is also very visually appealing. The wrapper is dark and oily with a fair amount of tooth visible. The veins are visible, and tangible, but none are bulbous enough to appear problematic. The head is a very tight, even triple cap... always a welcome addition, proving craftsmanship and careful construction.

The aroma off the body is mildly sweet. The foot offers an earthy spice and sweet tobacco smells that are positively tantalizing. The cold draw brings cedar, earth, and aged, smokey (earthy smokiness) tobacco flavors.

Lit at 11:20pm.

Initially there is a big blast of pepper and spice up front, followed by an earthy wood, almost sweet that lingers for a very long finish.

Getting into the first third a good ways there is a continuing cedar and earthiness along with a good pepper and heat. Through the nose cocoa and coffee bean sort of mingle and move around. The ash is dark grey, and holds on for right around an inch before falling in a solid clump into the ash tray.

In the second third the cocoa and coffee are still there in the nose. The flavors on the palette range from a dry leather to black pepper. The finish is still woody but also has a peppery spice to it, that leaves a tingling burn that coats the entire mouth. Finish flavors last 10 or so seconds, but the pepper burn lasts far longer than that. Pretty much the length between draws before it fades, so around a minute. Strength is medium-full at most at this point, despite the heavy pepper. Ash continues to fall at roughly one inch intervals.
Last third, and things are changing a good deal. The flavors have changed to leather and cinnamon mostly, with a spicy pepper finish that as before lingers for quite a while. There is a slight bitterness left on the lips that is a little offputting at times, so don't lick your lips, despite the delicious smoke flavors...

Ended at 12:40am, for a total burn time of one hour twenty minutes, which is perfectly respectable for a 5x50. Some great flavors here, and well represented and bold. Strength is nothing obscene, medium-full, maybe slightly more. Very enjoyable.