Friday, November 20, 2009

Disappointing Box of CAO Italia Novella

About a year ago I won a box of 25 CAO Italia Novellas (i.e. petite corona size) in a cigarbid auction. I had smoked 5 of these before and found them to be incredibly full, rich and flavorful and thus unusual for their small size.

My excitement about this blend has dulled since then. Out of the 25 cigars in the box, 10 were prohibitively tight in draw. Out of those 10, five were wrapped so tight as to be completely unsmokable. The other 15 were excellent, as I expected.

To my mind, 15 out of 25 is a poor batting average for a box of expensive cigars. Luckily I won them for only $55.00, because their list price has skyrocketed since then - a whopping $116.00 at Famous!

I am wary of ever buying these again - even though when correctly rolled, they are one of my favorite cigars.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carlos Torano 1916 Corona

It's been more than two years since I smoked a Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon Corona. I gave it a good review the first time, and now after a second try I can simply say that it is one of the best coronas you will currently find at ANY price on the market.

Slightly reminiscent of an H. Upmann cameroon corona - but infinitely better. Better-performing than the Rocky Patel Vintage 90 or 92 petite coronas (sorry Rocky!). As zesty as a Tatuaje Havana IV Angeles- but more refined and half the price. As full-flavored as an Indian Tabac maduro tepee - but better tasting and well worth the extra buck. As tasty as an Alec Bradley Maxx Nano - but cooler and more complex. And certainly, hands-down better-drawing and tasting than the two underwhelming Cuban coronas smoked by my friend Hank in Germany a year ago.

Although small in ring size, this cigar delivers a wallop of flavor. Medium in strength, it tastes great from first light and continues to billow you through realms of ecstasy until the last inch. The profile is nutty with hints of caramel, fruit and hard wood.

In narrow-ring cigars you are right to expect a bit of fiery zing. In the 1916 corona, the zing is in evidence but not overpowering. It gives you the initial rush of a small cigar and then eases back and builds in character over time. Folks, this smokes like a big cigar. Or very darned close. And, since it is 5.5 inches long, it lasts for an hour, or just about as long as a fat robusto.

You are a fool not to try this cigar. At $69 for a box of 25, this is likely one of the best 3 dollar smokes you will ever encounter. Give 'er a try and see if you agree.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nice! RP Edge Corojo toro

Wow, what a pleasantly strong and sweet surprise! Rocky Patel The Edge corojo (toro) is nothing fancy to look at, but boy is it an excellent smoke. Great, powerful flavor and cool easy draw. If you close your eyes, you could swear you were smoking a maduro - there's a tell-tale tinge of sweetness, not cloying at all, but just right - that takes this cigar over the top.

I'm putting this very close to the Olde World corojo robusto in terms of quality. The Edge sells at a much lower price point - incredible bang for the buck.

On a side note - I must say that I first tried an Edge corojo toro a few months ago, and that stick was simply awful. A dry and bitter flavor, not enjoyable at all. So there may be consistency issues, or just poor humidification at the CI warehouse. Or my taste buds might have been off that day. It happens occasionally - you try 2 or 3 cigars and none of them tastes right. A week later, a cigar from the same pack tastes wonderful.

In sumary: One excellent Edge corojo toro, one horrible Edjge corojo toro. I would hope that the positive experience described in this review is the definitive one.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 Vegas Miami Churchill: Best of the Bunch

Of all the 5 Vegas Miami sizes, the narrow (48 ring) Churchill is the best. It has a perfect draw (easy but not loose), a pleasing aroma, and excellent medium-strength favor from beginning to end.

In my experience most Churchills, especially the thicker-ringed ones, waste the first inch warming up. You might as well buy yourself a Toro and save yourself the wait. I've had better luck with 48-ring Churchills, which are easier to light and tend to bring on the flavor right away.

Case in point is the 5 Vegas Miami, whose Churchill offers a wonderful combination of woody, spicy flavors - a nice warm broth which gets slightly stronger as you smoke away the inches. High performance and no bitterness to the very end - another outstanding feature, since many Churchills tend to peter out with two or three inches to go.

You can tell I'm not a Churchill fan. Which goes to show just how special the 5 Vegas Churchill is. It won me over despite my preconceived notions.

If you have never tried a 5 Vegas Miami, start with the Churchills, which capture the best flavor characteristics of the other sizes and are superior in construction and burn. The Churchill stands up to other medium-strength Pepin Garcia blends, and is more affordable than most of them.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

RP I-Press: Earthy as it Gets

You never know what to expect with a Rocky. I figured the RP I-Press would be a subdued smoke due to its length and the fact that it is box-pressed.

Not so. This is a powerful maduro cigar with a strong flavor kick. Question is whether you will enjoy this particular flavor, which I would describe as deep, stark and earthy, and just on the border of souring into charcoal.

You may love this cigar or hate it, depending on your tolerance for peat, yard-leaf and the like. It has a coarse, middle-brow quality rather than one of refinement. If you are in a coal-shoveling, stoke-up-the-furnace kind of mood, it might just be what you're looking for.

Compares favorably to:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

5 Vegas Cask Strength II

The naming convention of this cigar is accurate: The 5 Vegas Cask Strength II is a rollicking, heavy cigar which I would describe as relentlessly strong and gravelly. What it lacks (slightly) in the flavor department, it makes up for in full-body mouth feel and hazmat-grade cloud production. It is simply a pleasure once in a while to smoke a cigar this bombastic.

This cigar is intense and unvarying from beginning to end. By the last inch, it was almost too much. I love strength and it takes a lot to humble me. By the end, I was relieved to put it down, like a kid getting off a carnival ride that turned out out to be a bit more than he reckoned for.

That's not to say I didn't like this cigar. It was wonderful on its own rough-hewn terms. You will probably find something to like about the Cask Strength II if you have enjoyed any of the following:
I like some of these cigars more than others (especially the Graycliffs) but they all share body and flavor characteristics that I found to some degree in the Cask Strength II.

Happy trails. Don't be surprised if this horse kicks you in the ass.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

5 Vegas Relic - Fairly Classy and Worth a Try

The 5 Vegas Relic is a well-constructed dark brown perfecto of medium-to-full strength that performs and tastes considerably better than the 5 Vegas "A" series... and is light years beyond the crappy "classic" blend. It burns with a musky fullness and tones of pepper and maple, putting it on the spectrum between the 5 Vegas Miami line and the stronger, coarser Cask Strength II series.

Something tells me the Relic is not going to be a gangbusters, bid-to-the-stratosphere hit, but a solidly respectable smoke whose price may relax a bit in the months ahead. If you want extra flavor, choose the Miami. If you want sand-blasting strength, choose the Cask Strength II.

I myself prefer the Miami, but the Relic is almost as good, and is priced appropriately in the $100/box range. You get what you pay for - a decent but not miraculous five-dollar cigar.

Just remember to stay away from the "classics"... they stink. Cigars International should stop misrepresenting them with rave blurbs written 6 years ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Camacho 1962 Lonsdale - Adequate at Best

Not much to say about this cigar. It has a good light, burn and draw, and brings occasional flavors of robust wood and earth for a nice quick 45 minutes. For a narrow-ring cigar, it produces a hefty and satisfying volume of smoke. However it is a bit on the dry side, and veers into bitterness now and then. Not the Camacho you dream of.

If you manage to win a 5-pack of these on for 7 bucks, like I did, consider yourself well-served. But do NOT pay full price expecting a luxurious smoke. It's just not there. Great for doing yardwork or snarfing down in your car with the top down. Or whiling away an hour in the garage on a rainy day.

For a much better lonsdale-sized Camacho, try the corojo cetros.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Perfection: Padron 1964 Maduro Imperial

What a difference a shade makes! About a year ago I wrote a negative review of the Padron 1964 Imperial (natural) which drew several comments along the lines of "are you out of your frigging mind -- this is a great cigar!" Well, that was a natural, and I stand by my word.

Now for the maduro. This is, simply put, one of the finest cigars you will ever smoke. If you like maduro flavor and medium-to-strong intensity, you will not find a smoother, finer burning, more perfect drawing, cloud-of-smoke-producing pleasure stick. The flavor is rich and, although not especially tantalizing at first, soon develops very pleasing characters of nuttiness, wood, chocolate and spice which peak in the middle and continue to the very last inch.

This cigar is extremely expensive ($14 per stick online, last time I checked -- assuming you can actually find it in stock anywhere) but in this case you are actually getting the perfection that the extra dollars imply. Very few expensive cigars live up to their hype.

Padron, I'm a believer. Maduro, that is. Black gold. Superstar.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Don Pepin Garcia Blue Generosos

After having smoked two of the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Generosos (toro) I can understand why people go ape-wild over this strong and flavorful cigar, which is apparently wrapped in dark corojo but tastes more like a sweeter maduro.

My main complaint is that it is rolled rather tightly, limiting the fullness and making you work hard for the flavor. Some people like drawing hard on a cigar; I don't.

For a similar-tasting Pepin cigar with an easier draw, I'd recommend the 5 Vegas Miami Churchill or torpedo. The 5 V Miami line is substantially cheaper and, to my taste, just as good and maybe even better than the Blue.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good Affordable Perdomo: Reserve Limited Oscuro "E"

It is always refreshing to find a cigar in the lower price range that smokes well and tastes great. The Perdomo Limited Edition Oscuro "E" (toro sized) fits the bill, and is available in boxes for around $60. You can also try it in singles that often go on auction at I won mine for $3.00 and it was worth every penny.

If you're a fan of Perdomo Lot 23 maduros, you will probably like the Oscuro, which is a darker, heavier cigar with a firm yet not prohibitive draw. Typically I prefer an easier draw but in this case the firmness works, allowing for a slower intake of dense, tangy smoke with predominantly hardwood flavors and a dollop of fruitiness - cherry comes to mind.

This cigar performed well from beginning to end, leaving this world as a tiny, stubby nub. I look forward to trying other sizes in this line.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plugged 5 Vegas Miami Toro

It's always a downer when you light up a well-regarded cigar only to find it's thick as a brick and tighter than a nun's habit.

The single 5 Vegas Miami toro in my possession (which I won at cigarbid several weeks ago) turned out to be completely plugged and unsmokeable. I was really looking forward to it, considering how pleasurable the other sizes have been, especially the wonderfully complex and tasty Miami Churchill.

I can only hope the poor construction of this stick was an anomalie. If you've had similar experiences I'd like to know. Can I count on the 5-V Miami toro or is cramped rolling/plugging going to be a recurring theme?


Friday, September 4, 2009

A surprisingly decent mild: Tierra del Sol Maduro robusto

In a reckless move to "offset the shipping charges" after winning an expensive 5-pack of Rocky Patels at, I bid a lousy 5 bucks on several five-packs of "Tierra del Sol" maduros. This is Perdomo's super cheapo line, and both the naturals and the maduros are described in promotional blurbs as "mild but flavorful."

Not being a mild fanatic, I was skeptical, especially after learning I'd won 15 of these bargain-basement stogies. No need to kick myself however, because these are decent smokes, and about as good as you can hope to get in mild. Good because they are maduros, so they actually have some body and flavor (unlike your run-of-the-mill Connecticut-shade snorers).

As a lover of full-powered cigars who's had my share of jitters after lighting up a Camacho after breakfast, I would highly recommend trying a Tierra del Sol maduro instead. Think of it as a "morning cigar" that won't leave you bouncing off the walls.

You will find hints of flavor reminiscent of Lot 23 maduros and 826 Slow-Aged maduros. The Tierra del Sol is a mere shadow or ghost of those cigars, admittedly, but no one promised you anything more.

Worth a buck a stick if you can get it that cheap. I'll hang on to a few of these for those rare occasions when low-wattage appeals, and give the rest to my mild-loving friends for Christmas.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just Bad: Perdomo 2 Limited Edition Cameroon epicure

I smoked a Perdomo2 Ltd. Ed. Cameroon (epicure size) last night and wondered if my humidification had gotten away from me: It tasted hot and dry. This is NOT what you expect from Perdomo, which makes several wonderful blends.

Luckily I found another review at a site called One Cigar a Week and it confirmed that the problem lies with the cigar, not my humidor: The Perdomo2 Ltd. Ed. Cameroon is simply a failed blend. Here is excerpt from One Cigar a Week and it is right on the money:

"Expect harsh tones of spice and earth upon lighting. The cigar was very bitter all the way through. There was some complexity to the cigar; however, the strong and bitter dirt notes made it hard to distinguish and enjoy."

To create gems like the Lot 23s and the Reserve Ltd. Oscuros, I guess you have to knock out a dog or two along the way. The Perdomo 2 Cameroons really should be pulled from the market or dumped at extreme discount. Buyer beware.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Very Good Boy: Rocky Patel Olde World Maduro robusto

I finally nabbed one of these on a "singles" auction at cigarbid. What they say is true: This is a wonderful cigar, encapsulating all the best traits of maduro richness and flavor.

Like its corojo sibling, the Olde World maduro robusto draws with a cool lushness that few rollers are able to master. The flavors are complex and bold with a hardwood edge and tinges of coffee, grain, spice and semi-sweet chocolate. You know the deal: Everything that makes little Jack Horner puff like a maniac and say, "what a good boy am I." The performance is flawless down to the last inch. No bitterness, only satisfaction from beginning to end.

I kept comparing this favorably to other great maduro cigars such as Oliva Series G, Camacho Triple Maduro, Perdomo Lot 23 maduro and even Indian Tabac maduro boxers (which can be excellent, though not always). The RP Olde World Maduro is a winner and worth the $5 minimum with which you will be hopefully be lucky enough to win at cigarbid. I've seen them bid all the way up to $9 apiece and even at that price they would be worth it.

Less than wow: Rocky Patel Olde World corojo toro

Now that I've tried both the corojo and maduro Olde Worlds in the sqare pressed toro size, I can confirm that my theory is correct: The toros are rolled tighter than the robustos and torpedos, making them firmer in the draw and weaker in flavor. The corojo corroborates my similar exerience with the maduro.

Smoke fans, if you want the full body, astonishing flavor and lush draw which the Olde Worlds (both maduro and corojo) can provide as well as any cigars on the marketplace, avoid the toros.

The toros are good if you prefer medium to mild. However even as mild cigars, I wouldn't say they are competitive. Stick to your expensive Fuentes and Padrons for similar but better-performing profiles.

The Olde Worlds are expensive too, so it helps to know what you're in for before you buy. In summary:

Robusto and torpedo - Full body, easy draw, bold flavors.
Toro - Tighter draw, milder strength, subtler flavor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The name doesn't lie: Cu-Avana Intenso robusto

The Cu-Avana intenso robusto lives up to its name: It's a hearty, strong, effulgent cigar that delivers a consistent if somewhat uneventful performance. If you like deep, earthy flavor with a mineral or even charcoal undertone, this cigar will probably satisfy you. It reminded me of blends such as 5-Vegas Series A or Monetcristo Media Noche, only stronger. The smoke is so thick it almost has a chalky consistency, which I find rather pleasant, especially because it never veers into bitterness (often a drawback of strong cigars).

By the time you get to the end of this stick, you are either cheering for more or ready to hang it up. I was in the latter camp, the way you might feel after gulping down several slices of pizza or chocolate cake. Great in the beginning but a bit stultifying in large doses. This cigar does not "develop" at all - it maintains the same texture and flavor from beginning to end.

I was lucky to win a 5-pack of these on cigarbid for only $7.00. For that price it is a wonderful cigar, and at its normal box price of $60.00 it is still an excellent value. A little too heavy and one-dimensional for my taste, but it just might be up your alley if your preference is a notch higher on the strength-o-meter.

It takes a lot for me to call a cigar "strong." This one truly is, and it earns the name "intenso."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ITC 10th Anniversary robusto

Just a brief note while it's still fresh in my mind:

The Rocky Patel ITC 10th Anniversary is an excellent mid-strength robusto, and not deserving of the lackluster reviews I've seen by others on the web.

If you like Indian Tabac and Rocky Patel blends in general, you will probably like this cigar. I myself am definitely in the target market.

This cigar tastes great from the get-go, like a cross between an Indian Tabac "classic" corojo and the earthier, stronger blends from the Vintage and Super Fuerte series. It has subtlety, body and a smooth, long finish. Flavors are a nice balance between wood, incense, and earthy spices. It has an easy draw and a warm richness not quite as dense as the super-expensive Olde World corojo, but softer and just as satisfying in its own less intrusive way.

Another way to think about it might be: Indian Tabac maduro with extra silk and cream stirred into the mix.

My only complaint was that about halfway through, the wrapper started to flake and unravel near the head. This might have been because I set it too close the grill while barbecuing. However, a little shaggy-head is not enough to bring this cigar down: I smoked it to the nub. Sometimes I welcome a little warmth and loosening towards the end.

I won a this robusto for $3 on cigarbid singles. I would love to smoke more and will probably bid on a five-pack soon. In any case they are worth their list price, which is about $100 per box.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Distant Runner-Up: Rocky Patel Olde World Maduro toro

Update 10/4/2009: The robusto is much better than the toro, see my later review.

First let me clarify that I find the Olde World toros (both maduro and corojo) to be tightly wrapped and somewhat mild. That explains the negative tone of this review. I recommend the robusto size instead, because the robustos are easy-drawing, lush, and full of intense flavor.

I was wrong below to insist that the corojos are "better" than the maduros. Both blends are excellent in the robusto size, just not the toro.


The Rocky Patel Olde World maduro toro is a good cigar with typically identifiable Rocky maduro flavors. Yet in comparison to the fuller-bodied Olde World corojos, it seems dainty and disappointing. I know this is bucking the trend of general opinion, but it's the conclusion I draw based on my experience.

First, the flavor was too tranquil and subtle for my liking. Second, the cigar went out several times during the course of the evening. Third, it never developed or strengthened as I would expect a cigar of this length (6.5 inches).

I've found that square-pressed toros of almost any brand tend to be less intense than round vitolas of the same blend. I'm guessing this is because most squares are narrower than a circular 50-ring robusto or toro. Also, the act of box-pressing probably tightens the draw and reduces the strength of the smoke. I will test this theory when I smoke the square toro of the Olde World Corojo: If it too is wispy and placid, I will know that it's a result of the shape, not the blend.

Don't get me wrong, the RP Olde World maduro toro is a fine and enjoyable cigar. It is better than nine-tenths of the competition, and a worthy mild-to-medium smoke. If your tastes lean more to the medium than the strong, you may rate this cigar at the very top of the scale.

But I'm not a mild to medium guy. I like 'em strong and full. For now I will continue to insist that the Olde World corojo is better than the maduro, and is in fact one of the best blends in the universe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Camacho SLR Maduro Gigante

The Camacho SLR Maduro Gigante is a wonderful cigar with plenty of rich flavor and smoke, medium in power and verging on strong as you burn down the pole. Although called "Gigante," it is shorter than a Churchill - about 6.5 inches long and 52 ring in width.

Although full-bodied, this specimen is in no way harsh or bitter, unlike it's stubby little brother, the SLR Rothschild maduro. Also it will not knock you for quite the nicotine loop as, say, the 10th Anniversary series. The SLR is a bit more suble, more woody and leafy, less peppery.

The light was easy, the burn was fine and only one touch-up was needed -- and this only because my wife called me away to dig up some plants in the back yard. If you're a Camacho fan, you know that you can't leave one untended for more than 3 or 4 minutes. They simply burn out. An occasional relight is a small price to pay for the flavor and consistency this brand provides.

There is nothing quite like a big ol' Camacho maduro to cheer you up and get you looking on the bright side of life. From the first puff to the last stubby inch, the SLR Maduro Gigante provides excellent flavor and performance. Another winner from one of the true kingpins of powerful cigars.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Holds Its Own in a Wind Storm: Punch Magnum

Every time I grab a non-maduro cigar, I'm always afraid it will be wimpy and weak. Not so with the Punch Magnum, a fat, light brown robusto (sumatra wrapped) that lives up to its name.

All the elements were against me on the evening I smoked this: The wind was howling outside (but Cigar Jones was calling, and I had to heed) and as soon as I lit up, feeling like King Lear on a deck chair, my wife informed me that the hot water wasn't working and could I please boil some water on the stove to warm up her bath...

I said yes, always up to the challenge. Taking a few puffs on the Punch (which from the very first was full and spicy), I raced back into the kitchen, filled four pots of varying sizes with water, and set them on the burners. Then I raced back out to the deck to drag a few times on the Punch and exhale into the howling wind. The Punch was good and held its own.

From then on it was mad hectic race, emptying pots in the bathtub, filling them again, stealing back out to the deck for a Punch break, and ferrying fresh pots of hot water back to the tub, where Sally soaked languidly. I was a man on a mission, like one of those plate-spinning wretches that used to pass for entertainment on the Lawrence Welk show. Run, fill, dump, smoke. Run, fill, dump, smoke.

Key takeaway from all this: The Punch remained excellent. I look forward to smoking the other four in my humidor, and giving a proper review after sampling under prime lounge-by-the-pool conditions.

Not that I have a pool.

I do have a deck, strewn with ashes from last night's Punch magnum. And a water heater that needs to be replaced.

Thank God my humidors are full--and that my last cigarbid win included the Punch magnum 5-pack--because it looks like I won't be buying any new stogies for a long, long time.

Camacho Steamroller: 10th Anniversary 11/18

The Camacho 10th Anniversary 11/18 is a powerhouse of a cigar that is identical in flavor to its smaller sibling, the robusto (see review from 3/16/09). The only difference is, the 11/18 is much bigger and lasts 45 minutes longer. That's nearly two hours of wanton, peppery smoking pleasure that will leave you blubbering in your deck chair, ready to slither back to your humidor for a repeat.

Do eat a meal before you smoke this cigar, and go easy on the alcohol. You want to enjoy this bomber with your wits about you and your memory of the experience intact.

The burn, as with many Camachos, will need two or three touchups. On the upside, once you touch up, the flavor bursts with double power and doughy lushness before it returns to "normal" blast furnace strength.

Highly recommended.

Friday, May 8, 2009

5 Vegas Miami Torpedo - Getting Better

The 5 Vegas Miami torpedo is an interesting cigar and worth trying. I find it the best of all the 5 Vegas blends and sizes I've tried so far, including the Limitada, which is milder. In fact it is almost as good as that long-gone blend from the "classic" series that I was able to sample once and never again (the current classics are lousy, by the way; stay away from them).

The Miami torpedo is rolled better than the robusto and has a perfect, easy draw that brings lots of full-flavored smoke to your eagerly awaiting maw. The burn is fairly reliable (one touchup needed midway) and the flavor is excellent -- hearty leather, salt and hardwood with a bit of a twang on the tongue.

If you like Don Pepin Garcia creations such as the Cuban Classic series, you'll recognize the flavor characteristics here and probably enjoy them. My only complaint is that it's not a "nubber" - I had almost 2 inches to go when I set this one down.

Not sure I'd call this a great cigar but it is definitely a good one. Last month an auction of multiple "singles" at cigarbid all went for $3 each. That is a real bargain for a cigar of this quality and I'm glad I placed my bid.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RP Olde World Corojo torpedo: Wow again, only shorter

I'm happy to say the the Rocky Patel Olde World Corojo torpedo is just as wonderful as the larger robusto of the same blend. It is full flavored, nuanced, fine burning and just one hell of a smoke.

Be aware however that this is not a large torpedo you might expect. It is rather more like a mini-belicoso, only 5 inches long. For the quality you get out of this baby, size makes no difference. You're still in for nearly an hour of smoking perfection.

The corojo torpedos can be won in the "singles" section of cigarbid for 5 bucks. Try one. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5 Vegas Miami robusto: Worth taking the plunge

The main question when considering whether to lay out serious coin for a 5 Vegas Miami is: Will it be significantly better than the 5 Vegas "classic" and "Series A" lines, or just more of the same dull stuff?

The answer is, significantly better. The 5 Vegas Miami robusto far outperforms the other two blends in flavor, which is nutty and woody, with lots of nuance and complexity.

A slight problem is the draw, which is a bit tight. Promoted as full strength, I would place the Miami robusto squarely in the "medium bodied" category. Perhaps an easier draw would have allowed more strength to come through.

On another disappointing note, the cigar lost its steam too soon, leaving me with a full two inches to toss at the end. This should be the spot where a great cigar turns fantastic, not bitter.

All in all, I'd rate the 5 Vegas Miami robusto a good cigar but not a great one. It was worth the 3 bucks I paid for it at cigarbid, but not quite interesting enough to buy in larger quantities at regular price.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oliva Series G Maduro robusto: Impressive!

I've just added another entry to my "best short cigars" list: The Oliva Series G Maduro robusto.

This dark, fine-looking, square-pressed little fellow draws like a dream and immediately impresses with lavish amounts of thick, tasty smoke. Strong and cool, the maduro robusto rates as highly in my book as the "G" Cameroon robusto, which I've raved about many a time on this blog.

The only difference is the flavor, which is exactly what you hope for in a maduro: Overtones of toast, hardwood, leather, semi-sweet chocolate, and other undefinable goodies.

Both the maduro and cameroon robustos deliver far more than their small size would imply. They smoke down to the nub, and respond well to long durations between puffs. They taste best when smoked with leisure, and reward you in a measure far exceeding their cost.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Less-Than-Grand La Flor

The La Flor Dominicana Grand Maduro #6 is a dark, dusty maduro which fetches quite high prices and is positioned as one of the more exotic La Flor Dominicana blends.

However, it has no particular flavor characteristics to show for itself. Just a basic dark chalky flavor, with no sweeness or spice. Medium bodied, fine-burning and nice looking. A nice cigar to try once, but nothing to rave about.

I won it for 5 bucks on cigarbid and that's about all it's worth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rocky Patel Edge Missile Maduro

The Rocky Patel Edge Missile Maduro is one of the better cigars I've had in this relatively small size (5.0 x 48). It burns and tastes better than most coronas or perfectos.

The first few minutes are disappointing, with a tight draw and a somewhat off-putting hot plastic taste. But stick with it and the journey gets better. During inch two it opens into a full, sweet-flavored gem. And the last two inches are impeccable. The sweetness truly does have an "edge" that is hard to describe; it's a tangy molasses with a dash of cumin or coriander on top.

Not mellow by any means, you will finish this Edge with a tingle on your tongue and charred fingertips from trying to smoke it down to the nub.

Tightness in draw tends to be a problem with many cigars under 50 ring. I also suspect that my local cigar retailer is keeping this box too close to the misting machine. Next time I'll buy and hold in my own humidor a lot longer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Red Hot Tamale: Camacho SLR Rothschild maduro

A few weeks ago -- back in the good old days, before the SCHIP cigar tax -- I was able to win a 5-pack of Camacho SLR Rothschild maduros on cigarbid for a mere 13 dollars. Woo-hoo!

I let them rest for a couple weeks in my humidor, anticipating them with glee. But I guess two weeks wasn't long enough, because the first one I smoked was as hot and harsh as a rubber tire squealing on the pavement. It never settled down, from beginning to end.

Locked away deep in this cigar, I kept telling myself, is a core of meaty flavor just yearning to break free. Unfortunately, it didn't.

Out of curiosity, I read some other customer reviews of this cigar on the blogs and retail sites. The majority of the reviews were ravingly positive. A few, however, were dismissive for the same reasons: Hot and harsh.

I'd like to give the SLR Rothschild maduro the benefit of the doubt, and chalk it up to a need for rest & mellowing. I'll keep the other four in my humidor for a long, long time. I'm hoping this will allow their true nature to reveal itself.

As you can see, I have a lot of faith in Camacho and am reluctant to condemn a single specimen. Someday I will do a second review. If the next one doesn't improve, I'll have to change my tune.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bulls-Eye: Camacho Triple Maduro 11/18

What a nice surprise! After a rather harsh experience with a Camacho Triple Maduro robusto, I was reluctant to fire up the boa-constrictor shaped "11/18" vitola from the same family line. So I kept this gi-normous baby sleeping in my humidor for nearly a year.

What a difference that nap must have made! The Camacho Triple Maduro 11/18 is an eventful, flavorful cigar, and almost worth its ridiculously high retail price.

Ok, let me rephrase that: If you can afford it, the 11/18 is definitely worth the price. If you can't, save up and try it once, just to say you did.

Some details: The 11/18 has a wonderfully easy draw with cool, mellow smoke at the outset. In fact it seems alarmingly mild at first. However the profile quickly gets stronger and fuller, exhibiting earthy, rooty hues, salt and mineral tones, and even a fruity hint of something like plumb or cherry. Everything is well-balanced and in constant development with each puff.

By mid point, this is a hearty captain of a smoke. Never hot, and always free and easy. This black bomber never becomes as heavy and deep as you might expect. On the other hand it never turns bitter, which is the pitfall of many strong cigars. Quite a fast burner, this totem pole was reduced to a nub in about one hour. It was an hour well spent.

I might describe the TM 11/18 as a ramped-up version of the Hoyo Excaliber maduro robusto, a cheaper cigar with a very similar flavor profile, only milder. Since I love strength, the 11/18 definitely takes the cake.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Image VS Reality: Coronado by La Flor

The Coronado by La Flor Corona Especiale was not quite the mouth-watering gem I hoped it would be. However it was a fine-burning, subtley tasteful, medium-bodied cigar that I heartily enjoyed by the pool on a sunny day in Florida. The flavor qualities were a middle-of-the-road combo of cedar, soft leather and occasional spice.

The construction was excellent and the performance consistent, with the strength increasing slightly towards the end. Oh, and by the way: It's a beautiful cigar with an ornate label that makes you feel classy in a Hugh Hefner sort of way, if you care about that sort of thing.

Back to reality: In summary, the Coronado Corona Especiale provides a nice 90-minute ride without any jarring twists and turns. If anything, it's a bit uneventful for my adventurous tastes.

No surprises here, just your standard high-priced cigar and worth 5 bucks if you manage to win it at cigarbid on the "singles" page. I wouldn't spend much more, however, because it's not a unique, palate-wowing cigar. There are dozens of other brands similar in flavor and quality, many of them cheaper.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deep-Dish, Melt Your Taste Buds in Ecstasy

I have found my greatest cigar discovery so far this year: The Rocky Patel Olde Worlde Corojo robusto. This cigar has the rich, melt-in-your-mouth smoothness that is akin to eating a fine dessert or pastry. The weight and balance of the smoke are incredible. The flavor is hard to describe, with a tint of nutmeg spicing a wondrous soup of palate-pleasing ingredients that might include cedar, leather, honey, and pumpkin. The draw is remarkably open and cool - a difficult combination to pull off - and the quality abides all the way to the final inch.

This cigar is well worth the shockingly high list price of 50 bucks per five pack. However, it is offered on discount regularly (today as a matter of fact at cigarsinternational "daily Joe") and typically auctions at $25 per 5-pack on If you can get these for $5.00 each, you are in like Flynn and living the life of Riley.

I ordered the daily Joe special as a gift to myself on St. Patrick's Day. However you need no excuse for spending money on a cigar this good.

I've heard the Olde World maduros are even better than the corojos. It's hard to imagine.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Camacho Breakfast Kick-Start: 10th Anniversary robusto

The Camacho 10th Anniversary Robusto is actually more like a Rothschild in size (4.5" x 50) but quite a powerhouse that delivers a long-duration smoke despite its short size.

This husky, peppery tenderloin steak of a cigar should probably not be ingested before noon, which is exactly what I did. This thing just about knocked me out of my chair, leaving me a swirling mass of dizzy-headed jelly. The flavor however was superb, as were the draw and burn. I only had to re-light once, which is pretty good for a Camacho (for some reason, most Camachos require at least two touch-ups, but they taste great all the way to the nub - a tradeoff I'm more than willing to take).

There's a reason people pay high prices for the 10th Anniversary line. That reason, I now see, is quality. The cheaper Camacho Corojo figurado, in comparison, is nearly as good in flavor but a notch down in power and fullness. Serious Camacho fans love that extra strength and meatiness that few other brands can match.

I was able to nab this 10th Anniversary robusto for $5 on the "singles" bidding section at cigarbid. It was worth it, and I wish I had more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Classy Little Wench

The Tatuaje Havana VI Angeles delivers a tart yet balanced flavor that preferably could have been a bit deeper and richer. However, it's about as good as you can get from a cigar this small (4.6 inch X 42 ring) and the flavor remains steady all the way to the nub. That itself is an accomplishment that sets this apart from other small cigars.

People are bidding these things up to $25 per five-pack on cigarbid, which I don't quite understand. It is a nice cigar but nothing fantastic. You could just as easily spend the $25 and get 5 or 10 really rich, full-flavored cigars from any number of labels, in robusto or larger sizes.

All things considered, when I need a short-duration cigar, I'll stick to Rocky Vintage 2nds perfectos and CAO Italia Novellas. They have a tad more fullness, they're substantially cheaper, and they burn the same length of time before you have to toss them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good While it Lasts: RP Double Maduro torpedo

The Rocky Patel Double Maduro torpedo lights up with the fresh, crackling flavor you expect just by looking at this dark beauty. You are immediately swinging from the jungle-vine, beating your chest like Tarzan and off to conquer distant planets with Captain Kirk. Ships ahoy matey, set sail and start blowing rich and tasty smoke. The draw is even and the burn is good, clear skies ahead.

This pleasant journey continues for a full three inches of the cigar. Then the wind starts going out of the sails at about the 3.5 inch mark, with a hint of bitterness in the puff. By inch 4 the ride is over. However, four good inches from a 6-inch torpedo is a respectable performance, so I would recommend this tasty treat for at least a try.

I do prefer a cigar that delivers peak flavor all the way to the nub. But you can't always get this. The RP double maduro torpedo is not a deep-dish, melt-your-taste-buds-in-ecstasy product, but it's a solid professional cigar that delivers well on its mid-range price point and has an interesting flavor profile with tones of salt, peat and sweetness.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Greycliff Red Label: Good But Not Worth $16

In pursuit of the ever-elusive "perfect cigar" I placed wild-ass bids on three Graycliff Original PGX Toros at and won them for only 5 bucks each. This made me wary, because these things retail at famous smoke for $335 for a box of 24. Wow! What a bargain, right?

First, you must understand that this is a medium-strength cigar leaning towards the mild side. The appearance, light, draw and burn are impeccable. The taste however is a bit too subtle and soft for my liking. As the cigar burned toward the mid-point, it evidenced an occasional bitter aftertaste which I had to combat by drawing with less strength. This goes against my grain as a lover of rich and full-flavored cigars.

The famous website praises the Original PGX as being able to "hit flavor peaks other brands can only hope to reach." This is hands-down not true. I've smoked plenty of other mild-medium cigars that performed as well and had equally good if not better flavor characteristics.

Final verdict: An excellent mild cigar if you manage to get it for 5 bucks. Not worth much more and certainly not worth paying the standard $81 for a five-pack.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Decent Novelty Smoke: IT Maduro Teepee

I call the Indian Tabac Maduro Teepee a "novelty" cigar because of its unusual shape: It has a wide, bell-bottom foot which gradually narrows, cone-like, all the way up to the head. The idea being, if you stand this cigar on its foot, it looks like a slim teepee.

So much for the novelty. The Indian Tabac Maduro Teepee tastes almost exactly like the shorter, stubbier maduro boxer, with the exception that its draw is tighter and it takes a bit longer for the smoke to build in fullness. By the time you've smoked off an inch, you're getting the strength you expect.

The teepees can be won at cigarbid for 7 bucks per five-pack if you're an early bidder. However, I prefer the maduro boxers because of their friendlier draw. You can win 10 maduro boxers for 14 bucks in the Samplers section at cigarbid - but they are only listed about once per month.

Keep in mind, all the IT classics are cheapies that can vary in performance. One of every six or eight will be a dog that burns wrong or tastes like utter crap. You'll just have to throw it away. Call it the "cost of being cheap".

It works for me.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Walking the Dog with Sancho

The Sancho Panza Double Maduro Quixote is a short (4.5 x 50) and flavorful Sancho. I smoked this dark little oscuro-wrapped treat while walking the dog in freezing cold, breezy weather. It's really hard to judge a cigar's character under these conditions, but the flavor was definitely rich and nuanced. As good as an Indian Tabac Maduro Boxer, and at a similar price point.

I can't wait to try one of these under summery conditions. For a cheap cigar, it seems to be a great value.


Friday, January 2, 2009

La Flor Dominicana Ligero L300

The La Flor Dominicana Ligero L300 is a nice, moderately powerful cigar that lights easily, burns well, and picks up slightly in intensity as you reach the final two inches. I was expecting more depth and nuance of flavor, however, based on my experience with the chisel maduros, which are a more recent creation by this label. That rich, leathery/hickory undertone that makes the chisel maduros so unique is missing from the L300.

The L300 in retrospect seems like a transitional blend, a pit stop on the way to Litto's more impressive double ligeros. I will not likely buy more of these but will glady smoke up the three I've got left. They are as good as a Padron 1964 Imperial, fairly similar in strength and flavor, and can be won at cigarbid for 17 bucks per five pack, less than half of what the 64s auction for.