Monday, October 25, 2010

AVO Classic

AVO No.9
4 3/4 x 48

This Dominican made, Connecticut wrapped classic is the original, core line from world renowned musician, and cigar "Composer" Avo Uvezian. The AVO classic line, as well as the other AVO lines are produced at the Tabadom factory in the DR, through Davidoff of Geneva, which certainly gives an immediate sense of elegance and class to the AVO brand. This small robusto/corona extra features a silky smooth, almost vein free Connecticut wrapper, with tight seams, and a good looking, if slightly lop-sided double cap. It has a fairly firm pack, becoming slightly softer near the foot. The color is a medium caramel brown, even and neat looking. The raw aroma is of mild tobacco, with both hints of barnyard hay, and a slight soapy aroma. Not often that I get the soap smell, but it is always interesting. The cold draw is a little grassy, mild tobacco, and a hint of that musty aged smell.

Lit at 11:15pm

Initial impression is a soft, smooth tobacco flavor, with a light earthy feel to it. Not much else, but it is a very mellow, relaxed profile that I quite enjoy already.

About 3/4 of an inch in now, and there is a light white pepper finish, preceded by a mild, dry cedar and tobacco on the draw. Burn line is flawless, draw is perfect, and the ash is a beautiful, chunky, bright white. Even through the nose this is a very mellow, pleasant smoke. I could probably exhale an entire draw through my nose, and suffer no ill effects as a result. The mouthfeel is creamy, but no cream flavor is present. Towards the end of the first third there is a toasty nut flavor, like cashews, that makes an appearance briefly on each draw.

In the second third things get a little more robust. Cedar gets a little stronger, rounder on the palette. The tobacco flavor becomes less grassy, and more rich. The pepper on the finish is also a little more apparent. Good tingling feel over the tongue. Interesting development, as this is where most sticks seem at their mildest.

Hitting the final third, the musty tobacco that I could smell before the light is now present on the finish, along with the white pepper. Mellow tobacco, robust cedar and now musty aged tobacco are all present. The draw and burn continue perfectly. The ash falls at one inch intervals, as it has from the beginning. The ash is still an attractive, bright white color.

Ended at 12:40. As you can see I really smoked this one as far as humanly possible. Just a really great, balanced, mild, mellow profile. Straight forward flavors, no strength to speak of, but nothing bad. Balanced really is the word I would use to describe this cigar. Perfectly balanced. Good smoke.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 Candela


This is a first for me. A candela wrapped cigar. I have never smoked one myself, and have honestly not read much about them either. I know that at one point in time the Candela wrapper was enormously popular in America, but today only a very select few manufacturers even offer a cigar with a Candela wrapper. Recently there has been a little buzz about this unique leaf, so I decided to give one a shot. The AF FF 8-5-8 Candela is a fairly inexpensive cigar, weighing in at just over $5.00 US at my local, and on many websites. It features a fantastic olive green wrapper, with a slick velvet feel to it, reminiscent of many Connecticut shade wrappers in terms of feel, but ultimately very different. There are almost no veins on the entire length of this cigar. The filler seems perfectly bunched, and is even from one end to the other. The body of the cigar has a somewhat fruit like smell, while the foot gives off a grassy, mild tobacco aroma. The cold draw is just slightly loose, evidence of that great Fuente construction we all know and love. There is a heavy grass flavor, with a mild peppery finish present on the pre-light draw. It reminds me of very young tobacco, but without any "sick" qualities, and an added pepper complexity. Very interesting.

Lit at 10:55pm.

Right away there is a grassy tobacco flavor that also has a hint of wood in it. There is a flavor that sort of flies through the palette quickly that I can't quite pin down yet as well... Something herbal. There is also a surprisingly potent black pepper finish that is pretty nice.

About 3/4 of an inch into this cigar, and it is really showing its unique profile. The flavor is still grassy, mild tobacco, with a peppery finish, but I have determined that the unknown element present from the beginning was, and still is, an herbal tea like flavor. Very interesting. Hope this profile keeps up. The pepper has mellowed slightly, and everything is just smooth sailing at this point. The ambient smoke coming from the foot is sweet and grassy, slightly biting (not harsh, just a sharp aroma), while, to borrow a term usually applied to alcoholic beverages, the actual palette smoke and flavor is very dry. No sweetness to be found here. Ash falls for the first time at about one inch.

Really getting into the swing of things, and everything is smooth, and mild, but flavorful. This is definitely a mild cigar, and an interesting one at that. The wrapper seems to add such a unique element... The grassy flavor is very interesting. Normally a grassy flavor isn't something I enjoy, and it is also usually accompanied by a good deal of bitterness. Instead this is a dry, earthy grass flavor, that is unlike any other I have had before, and shows no signs of poor treatment of tobacco.

Just two draws before the ash falls for a second time, there is the addition of an earthy, wood flavor, not sweet like cedar, more moist, and almost oak like. This slight fortification of flavor is certainly a welcome addition. Unfortunately, a split has developed in the wrapper, in the shape of a Y, from the burn line down about 1/4 of an inch. Hopefully it will just burn through without issue.

At the halfway point I have given it a little touch up with my torch to help it burn neatly past the crack in the wrapper. Flavor remains the same, grassy on the draw, followed by an herbal/tea flavor briefly, with a drawn out oak wood flavor, and a smooth black pepper finish. All of these elements combine very nicely to make a great mild smoke so far.

In the final third I am starting to get a little sweetness becoming apparent. Not like a maduro, but just a faint, floral sweetness. It is nice with the grass and tea flavors. The oak flavor is still here as well, and rounds things out nicely, giving a little more depth to the feel of this smoke.

Ended at 12:45am. Pretty long smoke. I'm going to just say this in summary... Don't be afraid of the green wrapper. At least in the case of the Fuente candela, it makes for a fantastic alternative for a mild smoke. Dry, earthy, and floral. Great smoke.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tatuaje Petite Cazadores Reserva

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week or so... I have a few reviews written up and ready to post, so expect them all to show up in the next few days...


This little corona/small cigar is one of two 4x40 vitolas that Pete Johnson and Tatuaje Cigar debuted at IPCPR this year. The other is the Verocru no.5, an extension on the Verocru Havana VI extension. Cigar lines can become a little complicated, but hopefully these are clear enough. The Petite Cazadores Reserva is a new, regular production in the Reserva line, a segment of the Brown Label line that forms the core of Tatuaje cigars, and constitute less limited releases of special cigars from Tatuaje (the Cojonu series, the RC cigars, etc.) In this case, the Petite Cazadores Reserva is designated 'Reserva' due to its use of the awe inspiring, dark as night Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper which is very highly regarded. In color it is, as I mentioned, a smooth dark chocolate. There are no really large veins visible. The seams are tight, and the triple cap is fantastic. An interesting little element of this small smoke is the closed foot, which Johnson seems to like, using it on his personal blend, the Tatuaje Black Label, and now this. The aroma is slight, and chocolate like. The closed foot prevents much of a smell, and not much feel for the cold draw either. There is a slight sweet tobacco flavor, and a hint of cocoa on the pre-light draw. Need to light it for it to open up.

Lit at 11:00pm.

The draw here at the beginning is a little firm, but smoke production isn't bad, so we'll see how that pans out. Flavor initially is a pure black coffee taste, with a slight sweetness on the draw, followed by a dry leather and pepper finish. Great start.

The ash is a beautiful dark gray color, with very heavy white tooth to it. The ring structure often present in cigar ash is displayed here flawlessly. Very attractive. About a fourth of the way in the ash is holding tight. Flavor remains sweet tobacco, black coffee a slight leather, and a smooth pepper on the finish. This is billed as being a powerful blend, but really it reminds me of a miniature version of the 7th Reserva, minus any boldness. More a smooth relaxed overall feel, rather than any biting power like so many of Pepin and Pete Johnson's blends have. As a small cigar, so far this is perfect for a relaxing escape.

Rolled the ash off at about an inch and a quarter. Burn line has been flawless to this point. Flavor remains pretty consistent. Not really anything I wouldn't expect in a small stick like this. Delicious flavor so far though. Draw has remained really tight. I see what looks like a fat stem right in the middle. Pulled it out. Unfortunately it seems to have run the entire length of the cigar. After removal the draw is flawless. Just a slight tug of resistance. Fortunately, the removal of this little plug isn't so traumatic as to affect anything other than to improve the draw. That's a relief. I have smoked 5 of these prior to this write up, and I can say with almost absolute certainty that this little hiccup is just that, a one time fluke.

Getting to about the band point, performance is still perfect. Flavor remains the same, with a bit of a growth in the pepper, both flavor and tingling feel-wise. Put a nub clip in it (everyone calls it my roach clip, haha) to keep smoking as far as possible. For such a small stick, with less than an inch left, at 40 ring gauge, it is pretty impressive that it hasn't gotten hot at all.

Ended at 12:10am. Didn't expect that! Really long time for such a small cigar (one hour and ten minutes). Perfect performance aside from the tough draw initially. Great flavors, fantastic even. Smoke production has never been short of amazing. Leather, coffee, sweet tobacco, pepper. Great profile, and everything I have come to expect from Tatuaje cigars, especially those using the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. This is definitely a cigar I will be buying more of. They come in Cabs of 50 cigars, at a good price that works out to about $4/stick, which is cheap for any Brown Label cigar. Consider this a new addition to my regular smoke rotation.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tatuaje The 7th Reserva

5 5/8 x 46

This is the corona gorda that everyone has been waiting for. Corona Gordas have done very well in the other Tatuaje lines (The Hermosos in the Havana VI line, the Serie P P1, the La Riqueza and El Triunfador No. 3s, etc.) I, and certainly others, have been waiting with baited breath for a Corona Gorda from the Brown Label (La Seleccion de Cazador) line. For me, the Corona Gorda is a fantastic size because it has a smaller ring gauge than a Robusto, giving you a little more wrapper flavor, and a greater length, allowing you cooler smoke, among other benefits. The Robusto will probably always be the benchmark size in any line, but for me, the Corona Gorda usually ends up being my personal favorite vitola. On top of the pleasure of getting a Corona Gorda Brown Label, we get a Reserva version, with the always flavorful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, which is much loved on several sticks made by Pepin Garcia, and the My Father/DPG crew, including the famed and much sought after Noella Reserva, The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, and of course the super rare Frank Monster series cigar. To say that the Broadleaf Reserva Tatuajes hold a special place in the hearts and humidors of many smokers would be an understatement. So here we go...

The wrapper on this 7th Reserva is a dark chocolate color, not completely even in tone, but slightly splotchy, and extremely oily. There is a fine toothiness to the wrapper that you can't quite feel, but can certainly see. There are a few veins, only one of which is in any way pronounced. The seams are tight, straight, and even. The pack feels fantastic, having just the right amount of give to it, even from one end to the other, and showing no soft or hard spots. The triple cap, in obvious Garcia fashion, and perfect. I have yet to see a genuine Cuban cigar with a triple cap applied as well, flawlessly even, as most Garcia made cigars. The raw aroma is of sweet tobacco, with a slight hint of wood. Not particularly spicy or powerful on the nose. The cold draw is sweet, and earthy, with a slight mocha flavor. Mostly there is just a good earthy tobacco core. Maybe a very slight spice on the tongue and lips.

Lit at 11:35pm.

My initial impression is of a rich peppery spice, followed by an earthy tobacco. There is then a slight espresso, black as night, flavor that sort of dances around the palette, mostly to the rear, and the throat. A creeping, smooth pepper creeps up from the back of the throat and gradually, very slowly moves into the palette, lending itself to a very long, spicy finish. Great, complex start. Lets see how the rest goes...

The draw through the entire first third has been fantastic, almost no resistance, but producing massive amounts of smoke. If only everything smoked this easily. Ash is sort of flowering at the very foot, but not more than the first 1/4 inch, so I can't explain the cause. The rest of the ash holding is firm, tight even, and bright white in color, displaying tons of little tooth bumps. Burn line is straight and even. Flavor in the first third remains much the same as the initial profile. Pepper up front, followed by sweet earthy tobacco, a little black coffee, and then a smooth peppery spice that lingers. Through the nose I pick up just a little chocolate, as well as more pepper.

Getting a little way into the second third, the coffee flavor still is present in the middle, but a stronger cocoa has moved in on the finish. The pepper is mellowed a bit, which is not atypical when black pepper flavors are present. It is still here, just less powerful and biting. Overall I would describe the only changes in the second third as a mellowing, and smoothing of flavor, plus the addition of a cocoa note that is very nice. The burn line, and general performance continues to be flawless. The body is medium to full at present. Not feeling much in terms of nicotine right now, but the overall experience is fairly deep hitting, earthy and round.

Just prior to the start of the final third the smoke becomes suddenly, over the course of one of two draws, much bolder. The strength has come up a bit as well. Nothing unpleasant or a poor transition. The flavor remains mostly cocoa and coffee, with an earthy overall tone to it. Deep and powerful, but now bolder and more biting on the palette, the cocoa is sweeter, and coffee more bitter, and the pepper, still smooth but a little more... tingling. Performance remains flawless. Pete has said before that he doesn't care how a cigar burns, as long as it tastes great, well I for one am glad that Pepin and his rollers care, because a burn this perfect makes for a very laid back, relaxing smoke. I haven't had to touch my lighter once since the initial toasting and lighting, which is rare, even among the most high end cigars I have had.

With about an inch and a quarter remaining, I would call the sudden change... buttery, with a slight nuttiness. Coffee and cocoa are still present, but only in a sort of flighty, brief manner, followed by a creamy flavor, with a hot pepper on the finish.

Ended at 1:10am for a total smoke time of one hour and 35 minutes. I have to say, I am a fan of Tatuaje cigars in general, but this one is just so consistent, flavorful, and balanced that it certainly counts among my favorites. I am just glad I have some more in the humidor. Very good. I think this is a perfect example of a well blended cigar. Complex, not overwhelming, strong, but not too strong, and with a distinct, delicious flavor profile. Oh, and the PERFECT performance doesn't hurt either. As you can see, I smoked this one down to the very end.