Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puros Indios Puritos Candela

If you are looking for a VERY small cigar that tastes good and burns fairly cool, the Puros Indios Puritos Candela (4.0" x 30") is about as good as they come. I can safely say I've never smoked a better 30-ring cigar. Usually I won't touch anything below 38, but a friend gave me this and I figured, what the hell.

What a pleasant skinny surprise. You actually register some of the grassy, peppery flavors you would expect from a thicker-ringed Candela. Perfect for walking the dog or just having a quick smoke on a cold winter's night. What might otherwise seem hot or harsh feels just right when you're drawing cold outdoor air in along with the smoke. The mixture comes out just right on your palate.

After finishing one of these last night, I pulled out a 50-ring Padron and it just didn't work in the low temperatures. It tasted like cardboard. I wished I'd had another Puritos.

Try a Puritos Candela on a cold winter day. You might end up buying a box of 50 - which you can find at Cigars International for 20 bucks. That's a great price for a cigar that tastes better than anything you can buy in a drugstore.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Indian Super Fuertes better than ever

My last post about Indian Tabac Super Fuerte robusto naturals was rather negative, describing a mellowing effect with aging. I've had a few more since then and they are not exactly mellow, just a tad more refined as they age. Most of them keep their "kick" and I'm not sure what happened with the 3 or 4 that seemed mellow when I reviewed them last year.

I recently finished the last super fuerte from a box I bought in 2007. Wow, what a run. And, as I continue to buy new five packs of this blend, I'm amazed at how well they smoke fresh out of the box.

These are some of the most rugged, reliable full-bodied cigars that you can win on the auctions for less than 2 dollars apiece. Great for that quick-rush, give-me-a-cigar-NOW moment. They are not about subtle finesse, but instant gratification through open draw and crackling intensity. Sometimes they go bitter by the last third, other times they smoke gloriously down to the nub. Either way you get something of value for your $1.89 or whatever ridiculously low price you paid.

Whether you get 30 minutes or 60, you'll always get reliable draw, taste and burn that can withstand a stiff breeze, heat, cold, allergies, and even rain. You could probably smoke one in the middle of a hurricane and still enjoy it, although I've never tried that.

Oddly, the other blends in this line don't do much for me - I've tried the super fuerte maduros in various sizes and find them all lacking in flavor or not as well constructed. But the robusto natural (habano wrapper) is a real winner. A cheapskate's paradise.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Casa Torano Maduro Robusto

Casa Torano Maduro robustos are not so easy to come by any more - seems like the online stores are only stocking the mild naturals. However I bagged a five-pack of the maduros a while back for $13 on cigarbid.

Reviews are all over the place on these - some people say too mild, some too strong, etc.

I find them to be excellent medium-strength sticks with lots of body and flavor. Leaning towards woody and peaty, not sweet. Good draw and consistent burn, no harshness, and fine character to the last inch. A cigar with some finesse rather than a blow-you-away bomber.

For $3 apiece, you can't really do much better. Smoke them indoors or in calm outdoor conditions to enjoy properly. A slight breeze would probably knock them off their game.

Comparable to:
5 Vegas Series A - but stronger
Alec Bradley MAXX - but milder
Pepin Series JJ Maduro - similar flavor and a lot cheaper!
La Flor Dominicana Grand Maduro #6 - and much better flavor

Good luck if you can find them!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Cigarbid Interface Design - OUCH!

What are the folks over at cigarbid thinking? Their new web interface is horrible, hard to read, less compact and generally irritating.

Why do marketing departments feel a need to completely re-tool their websites every 2 years, no matter what? Guys, the old cigarbid was working just fine. It was easy to use. It was easy to understand. You could see everything on one continuous page. You had figured it out! It worked! Now you've thrown it all away!

Oh well. I'm sure I'll be back to bid as soon as my supply runs down.

Meanwhile I'm staying away. May be a good time for the rest of you early adopters to go out there and win some cheap bids, while the fogies like me sit in the dark, steaming.

Creative destruction. Web 3.9. Go figure. All the cosmetic change just wears me out. Jeez just give me a cigar.

Nestor Miranda 1989 Oscuro

The Nestor Miranda 1989 Oscuro robusto is a good, medium bodied cigar similar in flavor to the Nestor Miranda Special Selection blend that came out about 2 years ago--but a much better cigar, in my opinion. The 1989 maduro has more depth, subtlety and character while erasing most of the bitter tendencies that were an unfortunate hallmark of the Special Selections.

In various websites and distributor catalogs the 1989 oscuro is also referred to as a "maduro" - so I believe they are one and the same.

If the progression from the "Special Selection" to the "1989" represents an ongoing trend, I can't wait for the next blend to arrive from Nestor Miranda. The brand seems to be getting better every year.

This cigar is appropriately priced - about $70 per box of 20 - and is quite a bargain if you can win singles like I did on cigarbid for a mere $2.00.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Plain Old Fuente: Churchill Natural

Courtesy of the folks at Cigars Direct, I got to sample another vitola from the "standard" Arturo Fuente line, or as I've come to know them, the "Plain Ol' Fuentes" because of their lack of distinguishing characteristics.

This time I smoked the 7.25 x 48 Arturo Fuente Churchill natural, A nicely constructed, fine looking, good burning stick that starts out exceedingly mellow, builds up to about medium strength, tastes like slightly honeyed cardboard for the first few inches, and finally gets pleasantly rowdy at the end.

Inches 5 and 6 of this cigar are excellent. If you can hire a stand-in to smoke the first 4 inches while you're puffing away on something else, then put yourself back in to close the game on the Fuente, that would be ideal.

But in the real world you're stuck with another less-than-spectacular Churchill for the duration. I don't know how the Fuentes can manage to utilize a Cameroon wrapper to such muted effect. I can see how some people would like this, just not me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

El Mejor Espresso toro

The El Mejor Espresso toro is just as good as the Churchill. Great bang for the buck, easy draw, satisfying strength, flavor reminiscent of Oliva Series G maduro, Graycliff Espresso, and 5 Vegas Cask Strength II.

Yes, I said Oliva. Yes, Graycliff. Just as good as those venerable brands? Of course not. But drink a couple beers, squint, and hum a few bars of "Hail to the Chief" and you might convince yourself you're the King of Siam through the hazy smoke and nicotine delirium.

El Mejor kicks butt. Period. It is one of those mythological 2 dollar cigars that taste good at first light, get stronger in the middle, and keep it up to the nub if you can stomach that much strength. The holy grail of on-your-ass cheapies. The value-buyer's Shangri-la. The unicorn of the tightwad. The Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road, after you've tried a dozen crappy slumdogs that were overhyped by the wordsmiths at Cigars International. No, Dorothy, it's not a dream.

If you want a strong, cheap cigar that tastes good for at least 3 inches before turning rancid, buy these before the prices go up or flying monkeys swoop in and grab them all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Passable Fuente Corona Imperial Natural

I've been rather hard on the Fuente brand when it comes to the Hemingway series, which I find overrated and lacking in flavor. But what about the "everyday" Fuente cameroons? Once again, the folks at Cigars Direct have given me a chance to sample another specimen from this well known and feted brand.

In particular, the Arturo Fuente Corona Imperial natural, a cameroon-wrapped, extra-long lonsdale (46 x 6.5) that looks exactly like a Hemingway minus the tapered ends. Even though this is supposedly the "workingman's" Fuente, the price is not exactly rock bottom - about $100 for a box of 25. Nevertheless it is a bargain compared to the Hemingways, which get bid up beyond comprehension at sites like cigarbid.

The Fuente Corona Imperial Natural looks just as good as a Hemingway and is constructed equally as well. It lights easily and burns perfectly, no touch-up required. And the flavor? Well, that's my sticking point, because I find the flavor nearly identical to the Hemingway cameroons, that is, not particularly splendiferous. At best, it's Hemingway watered down with a little cardboard. Better than your average Connecticut shade cigar, but that isn't saying much. Medium strength (not mild, as some of the websites would indicate) and a "general cigar" flavor of cedar and straightforward tobacco. Once in a while you'll get a doughy sensation of lushness and exuberance - but not often.

I expect more strength and development from a cameroon. Technically, this cigar performs well from beginning to end. If you like the this kind of flavor, you will want to buy this cigar over and over again. I find it rather plain, so in the words of Lyle Lovett: Once is Enough. Thank you Cigars Direct for the opportunity to try.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Camacho SLR Maduro Rothschild Revisited: Not a bad cigar

It's been over a year since I first reviewed the Camacho SLR Maduro Rothschild, after trying one back in April 2009 and having a harsh, unpleasant experience. The long humidor rest did the trick, however, and my remaining 4 sticks have smoked very well.

After a year, these SLR maduros are no longer harsh. They are medium bodied, pleasant short cigars with nuances of red pepper, mineral and spice. These are not fantastic, knock-you-out-of-your-chair Camachos, mind you, and not worth bidding sky high on cigarbid. I won my 5-pack for $13 and wouldn't pay that much again. However if one happens to fall into your lap, you probably won't be disappointed, especially if you let it rest for a few months before lighting.

If you like light bodied maduros you might really enjoy these. They do get enjoyably stronger in the middle. By the last third they turn bitter and you can't smoke them down to the nub. Not a record-breaking cigar and of course I always expect the world from Camacho. Don't let that deter you: Just because I was disappointed doesn't mean you'll be. Even a mediocre Camacho is better than 90 percent of the cigars on the market.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Great Low-Buck Stogie: El Mejor Espresso Churchill

The El Mejor Espresso Churchill is a nice box-pressed Churchill that's dark and mean-looking and, last time I checked, available for the low price of about $45 a box online. Friends of mine are winning these like mad on cigarbid, and so I managed to get my greedy hands on one.

This is not a bad cigar for the price. In fact it would even be a decent cigar at twice the price - this time the marketing catalogs aren't lying.

The one I tried had a perfect draw and smooth, potent maduro flavor right off the bat. It reminded me of the lower-end Padron maduros (londres, ambassador, etc). Somewhat sweet, woody and salty, the flavor got more intense as the cigar burned down, maintaining quality until about the last third, which is about the most you can expect from a Churchill. The burn was a bit jagged and needed a touch-up or two, but I've had expensive Camachos that burned worse.

Worth a try. You might find yourself buying a whole box when you're done.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Finally a Good Hemingway: Short Story

Had my second Fuente Hemingway "Short Story" (teeny mini-perfecto) since trying one about 2 years ago and being generally unimpressed. This time I had to admit it was a quality smoke. It's the first Hemingway I've had that's burned right and tasted good from beginning to end.

I might change my opinion on the Hemingway cigar hysteria if I start getting more experiences like this. One thing I did differently was snip a tiny bit off the tapered foot so it would light easier. I've never had to do that with other perfectos, but it really seemed to make a difference on this one. The burn was consistent and the flavor stayed rich and robust.

I got this one from Cigars Direct and they take obvious care in their warehousing and shipping.

A nice little 30-minute cigar if you can afford it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Hemingway Myth, Confirmed Again

Another chapter in my ongoing Fuente Hemingway story of vexation: Why do people buy into the myth of these overpriced, underperforming cigars?

Case in point: The Hemingway "Best Seller," a 4.5 by 43/55 ring perfecto that I happily obtained from Cigars Direct. This expensive little specimen is hard to light, burns unevenly, requires boatloads of touchup, is inconsistent in flavor (one puff excellent, next puff bitter) and can't be smoked to the nub. Tell me again why I would want to pay $8+ to have this experience, over and over again?

Thousands of Fuente Hemingway smokers can't be wrong, can they...?
Folks, buy yourselves a bundle of Rocky Patel Vintage 92 perfecto factory seconds for $45 and you'll get more out of them than the Hemingway Best Sellers. Heck, you can win the RPs on cigarbid for $35 or less.

If you absolutely refuse to spend less than $6 on a 4.5 inch cigar, try a Casa Magna Pikito. Get a little enjoyment while projecting your purchasing power and worldly sophistication. At least Casa Magna delivers quality for the price.

Every year I give a different Hemingway vitola a try, and every year I shake my head and sigh. Am I the only cigarhead in the world who thinks this emperor is wearing some mighty shabby clothes?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Padilla Signature 1932 Robusto - Worth the Price?

The Padilla Signature 1932 robusto is a fairly expensive cigar - $270 for a box of 25 online, last time I checked at Cigars Direct. I'm not sure it's worth that price, mainly because it performed well only to the halfway mark then turned bitter.

That's a lot of dollars for 2.5 inches of smoking pleasure.

Those 2.5 inches are excellent, don't get me wrong. This is a great-looking, medium-bodied jewel, perfectly constructed, with lots of cinnamon & nougat nuance in its gentle, layered flavor profile. The draw was not as loose as I would have preferred, making this a less powerful smoke than it wanted to be.

I would love this review to be based on more than just a single stick. However at these prices I'm unlikely to try another Padilla 1932 robusto. Better luck to the rest of you; maybe I just had a bum stick.

For a much heartier cigar with a similar but bolder flavor profile, try the excellent Cuvee Rouge robusto by Cusano. You can get these for $150 per box of 24 and they are well worth it - full body and flavor with a hint of cinnamon and fruit. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.

Don Pepin Garcia Series JJ Selectos Maduro

The Series JJ Selectos Maduro (i.e. robusto size) is a perfectly constructed, fine burning cigar that chunks out flavorful, full bodied smoke from beginning to end and requires little if any touch-up. Another great selection from the CigarsDirect vault.

I found it a little wanting in the flavor department. It has a flat maduro flavor rather than one with a sweet tinge that makes a maduro special, in my opinion. Your taste may be different than mine, and if you like other Pepin maduros you might like this one. I prefer the Pepin "Blue" and "Cuban Classic" maduros to the Series JJ. Also the mind-blowing Series JJ Corojo, which I believe is one of the finest corojos on the market today.

The Series JJ Maduro reminded me a bit of:
All of which are high-quality, premium cigars whose flavor just happens to not be my bag. If you like the flavor profile of any of those, you will probably like the JJ Maduro.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

G.A.R. nicht!

Recently was able to smoke a G.A.R. by George Rico robusto that was shipped to me by Cigars Direct. It is a fine-looking, well-constructed corojo that burns well and is medium to full bodied. However I found the flavor lemony and harsh, verging on bitter. Very similar to the Felipe Power robusto. This cigar did not improve in flavor or body as it burned down. I abandoned it shortly after midpoint.

I cannot recommend the G.A.R. robusto, but if you like cigars such as the current 5 Vegas Classic (i.e. not the good ones from before 2007) and the Graycliff Turbo, this might be right up your alley. Also reminded me of Perdomo 2 Limited Edition Cameroon epicure and Camacho 1962 Lonsdale.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Opus X No. 5: Number 2 on my list

If I hadn't smoked the magnificent Casa Magna Pikito a week ago, I might have been more generous in my review of the similar-sized Opus X no. 5. But I did, and the results are inescapable: In the petite corona size, Opus X just can't live up to the flavor and consistency of the Casa Magna.

I will say that the Opux X no. 5 is the strongest small cigar I have ever smoked with such cool and balanced flavor. I would challenge anyone to find a stronger petite corona that could be smoked with such pleasure. The description at the Cigars Direct website is not misleading: The Opux X no. 5 is made with rich, seasoned tobaccos and deserves its place among the world's finer cigars. However the one I smoked required several touchups, and the last 2 inches began to exhibit bitter notes.

The Casa Magna, while not as strong, was equally magnificent in the flavor department, performed longer and better, and required no touchup. If I had to choose, the Opux X would come in second. Sorry, Fuente freaks. The no. 5 is one of the best petite coronas out there, especially if you love strength above all else. But for all-around performance and finesse, the Casa Magna is a finer smoke.

Friday, May 28, 2010

5 Vegas AAA: Burnt toast and coffee grinds

UPDATE: 4-30-2011
Humidor rest does this cigar wonders and seems to have eliminated any of the "burnt" flavor characteristics that I referenced below. See my latest review.


Original review 5-28-2010:

The 5 Vegas AAA is indeed a more powerful cigar than the standard 5 Vegas A line. However, that doesn't necessarily make it better.

Upon receiving my 5 Vegas AAA from Cigars Direct, I let it sit in the humidor for about a week before lighting. I had high hopes but after the first few puffs I knew it wasn't going to be as good as some of the 5 Vegas Miami vitolas or the butt-kicking Cask Strength II.

I found the AAA to be one dimensional and somewhat harsh. If you lean towards coffee you might like it, although it tasted too much of "burnt" in my opinion: Burnt toast, burnt chocolate, burnt marshmallows or just plain old used coffee grinds.

Other than the flavor this cigar burns well, produces full rich smoke and maintains even character all the way the way through to the end. It might be your cup of tea if you like the charcoal side of the flavor spectrum. I just don't happen to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Casa Magna Pikito: Best Petite Corona Ever?

I got the Casa Magna Pikito (i.e. petite corona) from Cigars Direct and it looked so good I had to fire it up without giving it any humidor rest. It's a petite corona with a magnificent looking brown wrapper, and it burns and tastes as good as it looks.

I've tried many small cigars over the years, trying to find one that performs as well (or nearly as well) as a top-line robusto. Finally, I've found it. The Casa Magna Pikito is hands-down the best burning and best-tasting petite corona I've ever experienced.

The flavor is medium bodied and full of nuanced, balanced flavors that are hard to pin down because so various and complex. I would characterize them as very deep woody flavors with tones coffee, brown sugar and spice underneath.

The cigar lit easily, had a perfect draw, and performed excellently all the way to the nub. I was in cigar heaven for nearly an hour. This cigar is the closest you will likely get to saying: It smokes just like a big-ring cigar.

Very mysteriously, the order page at Cigars Direct features this statement: "Casa Magna is not intended for online sale but at Cigarsdirect always find a way to bring the best and most sought after cigars to our customers. Don't miss out on this fabulous new line!"

I guess if you're quiet about it, they'll let you order online. I'd recommend you try at least a 5-pack of these and it may change your attitude about petite coronas. A petite corona doesn't have to be a tight, harsh, crappy tasting cigar. It can be fabulous, like the Casa Magna Pikito.

Friday, May 14, 2010

RP ITC 10th Anniversary Toro

Slight disappointment with the Rocky Patel ITC 10th Anniversary toro. First half was great, just like the other ITC 10ths I've tried (robusto and torpedo) but the second half had bitter notes that compromised the experience.
In addition, there was significant unravelling at the head. By the time I abandoned this cigar (with about 2 inches left on the nub) it was looking pretty splintery. I don't mind a delicate wrapper but my patience wears thin when the flavor drops off.
People are consistently winning 5-packs of ITC 10th Aniversaries on cigarbid for $11 and sometimes even $9. In addition, Cigars International has recently had special offers on boxes as low as $49.95. A real deal. Howver, I would not recommend the toro.Try the robusto or the torpedo; they're top-line Rocky Patel bargains that taste great and burn well despite the flaking. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Padilla Dominus Churchill: One of the Best

I've had a lot of strong cigars and a lot of expensive ones. The Padilla Dominus Churchill is simply one of the best.

In general I'm wary of Churchills - especially if they are 50 ring or fatter. I've often found the 48 ring size to be a better bet - more strength from the get-go and better performance down the length of the cigar. This one proves my point.

The Padilla Dominus Churchill lights well, draws like a dream, and has a wonderfully cool, intense straightforward maduro flavor that is equal to or better than such gems as the 5 Vegas Miami Churchill or the Padilla Miami Churchill. That's saying a lot, because the P-Miami is a kick-ass cigar.

It is as if someone took a Cu-Avana Intenso, sanded out the rough edges, loosened up the draw, cooled down the furnace, added a hint of 5-Vegas Series A, a dash of Alec Bradley Maxx, a soupcon of Ashton VSG, a trace of Camacho Corojo, a dusting of Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon, a drop of sweat from an Indian Tabac Maduro and let er rip. My God what a cigar.

ITC Lonsdale - Too Tight to Mention

The Rocky Patel ITC 10th Anniversary lonsdale would have been a great cigar save for the tight prohibitive draw. The flavor is definitely there, but you just can't get a decent volume of smoke. I took this one nearly to the nub, hoping it would open up, but it never did.

Maybe it was a bad apple, but lonsdales are always a 50/50 bet. Rollers have a hard time keeping them loose and I probably won't try another one.

If you've had better luck, God bless you. The ITC 10th torpedos and the robustos are excellent. Try them-- if you're a Rocky lover you won't be disappointed. Handle them with care, they tend to unravel, but otherwise they smoke like a dream...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Never Meet the "Twain": Felipe Gregorio Icon

Here I am, performing another public service for my fellow cigar-heads, warning you from frittering away your hard-earned cash on yet another futile attempt to find the GREAT ELUSIVE CHEAP CIGAR.

Such a cigar may indeed exist, but the Felipe Gregorio Icon Twain (i.e. torpedo) is not it. I won a five-pack of these for a nominal 5 bucks about a year ago, and have let them age in my humidor ever since, every so often noticing what pretty-looking specimens they seem to be.

Do not be deceived. This cigar is not even nominally worth smoking. Just putting it in your mouth is a disappointment, leaving a distinct aftertaste of dirt - plain, nasty roadside dirt - on your lips. Such a horrible taste I have never experienced just from chomping on a stogie. Lighting it is no better - the smoke reminds me of dried seaweed, fish bones, and salt.

I will have to either throw the other 4 of these "icons" away or fob them off on unsuspecting relatives, demonstrating my care-free largesse. Then run away before they take a few puffs and come after me with hammers and blow-torches.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don Pepin Series JJ Belicoso

I've smoked a few Series JJ Belicosos during the past 2 years and I must say, they are worth the price -- and with humidor aging, even more so. The ones I based this review on were purchased in 2008.

My experience with them has been easy lighting, a uniformly excellent draw, and wonderfully smooth, velvety, rich smoke from the very first puff. It is amazing to find a corojo-wrapped cigar of medium strength that is this smooth -- even when you are in the process of lighting it. No "settling down" is required. Simply amazing.

I've not had a cigar that smoked better or cooler for the first half. The second half tends to get a little jagged in the burn, requiring a touch up or two, and the flavor occasionally wavers with intermittent bitter notes. A slight harshness can set in unless you wait several minutes between puffs.

That being said, once you adjust your puff-greed and sit with this cigar for a slow burn, the second half tastes just as good as the first, with a gradual buildup in strength, and can be smoked to the nub. This is a meaty, yet refreshing and refined cigar that I would gladly buy and smoke again.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cu-Avana Intenso Gordo

The Cu-Avana Intenso gordo is a tasty, medium-bodied fat Rothschilde (4.5 x 54) with a lot of strightforward sweet/salty maduro flavor that maintains peak form until the last third. Even though you won't be nubbing this one, it's an excellent value for the money (I won a 5-pack for $7 on cigarbid) and a great way to spend 30 or 40 minutes. Just throw away the last third and go on about your business.

I find the gordo more sophisticated and enjoyable than the robusto. You'll be tempted to walk away from the robusto before it's done (too much power, too little nuance) but you'll wish the Gordo kept going longer - nice rushes of flavor and fullness up until the draw gets spotty and bitterness sets in.

Both these vitolas are excellent if you know what to expect and pick the right size for your mood.

Monday, March 15, 2010

La Flor Dominicana Ligero L-250 Oscuro

Wow, what an incredible little cigar! If you love the double ligero chiselito maduros, this cigar is very much like it, without the gimmicky duck-bill "chisel head." The leathery hickory flavor is in full evidence, the nice powdery mouth-feel is there, the draw is full, and the smoke is cooler than you'd expect in a petite corona.

This one smokes a bit sweeter than the chiselito, and demands patience, especially as you smoke it down toward the nub. I smoked it too fast at the end and got some bitter moments in the last third. That was my fault: If I had slowed down and waited another 30 seconds between puffs, it probaby would have been fine.

I smoked this in a fairly stiff breeze while manning the barbecue. I can only imagine the robust experience this would provide in a tranquil, wind-free environment.

It's not a cheap little cigar, but it's a good one.

Another overpriced Graycliff: Turbo

The Graycliff Turbo (6 x 60 fat torpedo) is a strong but relatively flavorless cigar. It burns and draws well. It has a few bitter moments after the midpoint, and gets repetitive and boring in the last third. Definitely not a "nubber."

That's about all I can say for it. Nothing special and not worth spending a lot of money - certainly not the 10 bucks it retails for on the web. I would compare its flavor to Padilla Achilles, 5 Vegas cask strength II (but weaker), or a very inferior second cousin to Pepin Garcia Series JJ.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Indian Tabac Classic Teepee

Another cheapo winner from Rocky Patel. This fat, easy-drawing corojo is called a "teepee" but unlike the maduro teepees, the shape is actually a large (6 inch long) torpedo.

Flavor, burn and draw are excellent and identical to the arrow (robusto). A most satisfying smoke, especially if you don't puff too fast. If you like corojos and appreciate Indian Tabac in general, you will not be disappointed. Take your time and let it burn cool.

I won a five-pack of these for only 5 bucks. The quality-to-price ratio of this brand continues to amaze me. I've paid three times as much for lousier smokes.

Padilla Miami torpedo

It's surprising how much different the Padilla Miami torpedo is from the Churchill, a fine-burning, noble cigar.

In short, the torpedo is a disappointment. It looks, feels and smokes like a completely different blend. The wrapper is lighter in color (a rather pukish brown) and smooth rather than toothy. Nor does the torpedo have any of the enjoyable flavor characteristics of the Churchill. The one I smoked burned hot, was constructed poorly (soft spots, jagged burn) and was just a lousy, disappointing blob that slowy unraveled in my fingertips. I didn't even bother trying to smoke the last third.

The Padilla Miami Churchill is a great specimen. Just don't bother with the torpedo.

Jericho torpedo

I know this brand has disappeared from the market but I just wanted to comment on the torpedo, a fine smoke very similar in character to the robusto which I reviewed a couple years ago; however the torpedo is a bit fuller and stronger.

These cigars age very well, developing a faint underlying sweetness below the full-bodied strength you expect from a Camacho. The draw and construction are perfect. Cigar performs well all the way to the nub.

Jericho was something unusual: A high-quality, low-price Camacho line, the likes of which we will probably never see again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Indian Tabac Super Fuerte maduro toro

I've tried two maduro versions of the IT Super Fuerte -- the mini bellicoso and the toro -- and found them both lacking in comparison with the excellent habano-wrapped robustos.

The mini belicoso had a tight draw and tasted chalky and nondescript.

The super fuerte toro had an excellent burn and draw, and a leafy, peaty flavor that lacked nuance and bordered on cloying muskiness. If you like earthiness, chalk, clay, grassfires, pimento and the like, you might actually love the toro. It's just too far toward that end of the spectrum for my taste.

The toro is a decent cheap smoke that behaves like one. Power without subtlety, and a one-dimensional flavor that quickly feels flat and wears you out by midpoint. On the other hand I recognize this is one of those hard-to-pin down cigars that might get high ratings by other Rocky fans whose palates vary slightly from my own.

I'm unable to recommend, but unwilling to dismiss, the maduro I.T. Super Fuertes. Maybe Rocky will improve them in the next year or two.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Delicate but Rewarding: Rocky Patel ITC 10th Anniversary Torpedo

I've noticed that box prices for the RP ITC 10th Anniversary have fallen dramatically since the line was first introduced. Like others who avidly follow the Rocky Patel brand you might wonder if this is because the ITC 10th is a bad-tasting cigar.

The answer is no. The RP ITC 10th Anniversary torpedo, like the robusto which I reviewed last year, is a nice full-bodied, medium strength cigar with a lush draw and pleasantly doughy flavor profile.

The problem - and the reason I think people aren't buying this cigar - is that the wrapper is exceedingly delicate and flaky. On both cigars I smoked, there was flaking immediately after I removed it from the plastic sheath. The head also tends to unravel if you're not tender with it. Fortunately in neither case did the flaking interefere with the draw or enjoyment of the cigar. It just looked crappy and required very careful handling.

The ITC 10th anniversary is now quite a bargain, and a great smoking experience if you are willing compensate for the flaws. This means you shouldn't smoke it in cold or breezy weather, but in a place where you can be calm and relatively motionless. Don't jam it in your mouth and start mowing the lawn.

Also be careful when taking the cigar out of the plastic wrapping -- I'd recommend cutting away the plastic carefully with scissors, rather than pushing the cigar out through one end. If you can manage to store this cigar at higher humidity (maybe 73 percent) it might offset some of the delicacy.

If you are a Rocky fan and are willing to live with some constructional inadequacies, you are in for one of the best 3 dollar smokes around. In flavor I would compare this to Pepin Garcia Series JJ (though not quite as good or strong), Padilla Achilles (much better) and of course Rocky's own Indian Tabac Classic corojo line (with none of the bite and much more complexity and nuance).

In summary - even though it is "high maintenance" and will never win a beauty contest, the ITC 10th Anniversary torpedo is a scrumptious smoke. At current low prices, you have little to lose in trying one.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Padilla Miami Churchill - Dark Medium Finesse

Padilla Maimi offers an excellent narrow Churchill, dark and beautifully constructed. It lights quickly and proceds with a fine open draw. The flavor is a rather straightforward woody/leathery maduro, with plenty of rich, balanced smoke that never turns harsh or bitter. The burn is not perfect but with an occasional slight touchup stays whole from beginning to end. The cigar smokes well all the way to the nub.
As for the flavor, I find the 5 Vegas Miami -- also blended by Pepin Garcia -- a bit more interesting. However the Padilla Miami Churchill begins in peak form and continues that way for the full length of the cigar, never veering off into a dull or jarring puff This is simply an excellent medium-bodied cigar with substantial complexity and subtlety. It is well worth the 5 bucks I paid for it online.
Some people are winning these for $3 apiece on cigarbid, which is an absolute steal. Worth trying and, if you like maduros, it might become one of your favorites.