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.