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.