Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review of El Mejor Espresso Gordo

The El Mejor Espresso Gordo is a short (4.5 inch) fat (60 ring) box-pressed cigar that displays as the same deep, rich flavor as the other vitolas in this series--if you are lucky enough to get one that's rolled well enough to smoke.

I've smoked three and they were all constructed horribly. The first two had uneven draw and burn, with center tunneling so badly I had to let them go out. The wrapper seemed made of some fire-proof substance - it just wouldn't burn. I cut both of them back and started over. At the halfway point, they finally burned properly.

The third one, however, was a real doozy. It fired up OK. But after about 5 puffs the burn wormed its way deep into the cigar and came out the side of the wrapper - a big fiery knothole of ruin. You cannot smoke a cigar with a hole burning in its side. This is the kind of cigar you would get in hell, for torture, if hell came with cigars. The devil would laugh his head off as you puffed in futility and sank back into the burning morass from which you had crawled in hopes of a decent smoke.

Because of these three rather hellish experiences, it's hard for me to recommend the gordo. If you happen to be stuck with any, I'd suggest dry-boxing for a few days before you light up. I left one half-smoked in my garage, came back out a few days later, cut it back and finished it off. I was amazed at how good the last two inches were. 

The flavor really is remarkable for a cigar this cheap, but too bad about the construction. The other vitolas in my experience are better-rolled and provide the easy draw which makes for an exciting, inexpensive smoke.

Warning: All the El Mejor Espressos are strong and NOT complex or subtle. Either you will love them or find them harsh and punishing. Try one before you buy a box. If you don't like strength, stay away.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review of Nestor Miranda Doppelbok

The Nestor Miranda Doppelbok is a cheap cigar worth blogging about. It retails at for only $39.99 per bundle of 20 and packs quite a bit of punch and flavor. I have smoked 4 of them and they are consistently open-drawing, full-powered, tasty smokes. Very rich and satisfying for a cigar priced this low. They consist of a Habano wrapper and Nicaraguan filler.

I  like the Doppelbok better than Nestor Miranda's more expensive offerings such as the Special Selection (burns too hot) and '89 Oscuro (not rich enough for my taste). I think the Doppelbok has more flavor and "oomph" than either of those. The Doppelbok is a great cigar for a breezy night or times when you're "on the run" or otherwise not positioned to appreciate a subtle cigar.

I would describe the flavor of the Doppelbok as woody with a sub-layer of flint or mineral and hints of melon-like sweetness. The experience of smoking this straightforward, easy-drawing cigar reminds me of Indian Tabac Super Fuerte robustos, my favorite low-priced cigars. The Dobbelbok comes in a close second. 

It shares qualities with other cigars I like including:
  • Indian Tabac Super Fuerte Robusto (habano)
  • Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1979
  • Nestor Miranda Special Selection
  • Oliva Series G Cameroon robusto
  • Rocky Patel Edge Corojo toro
  • Rocky Patel Olde World robusto (natural/corojo)
If you like any of those cigars, you might enjoy the Doppelbok as a low-investment alternative.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

5 Vegas Triple A revisited

About a year ago I got my hands on two 5 Vegas Triple A cigars and was not impressed by the first one. It seemed harsh and bitter.

However after a 11 months of humidor rest, I took out the second one and can only say: Wow! Other reviewers are right: This is a deep, delicious, full-bodied smoke with a straightforward maduro flavor about as rich as they come. What lacks in nuance and development (there is none) is made up for in volume and cool strength. The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper is a winner and makes the Triple A completely different than the "Standard" 5 Vegas Series A.

If you have liked the flavor of the standard Series A but wished it just had more depth and power, the Triple A may please you very much. I am tempted to buy a box of these as a "go to" cigar.

The Triple A  reminded me of some of the better Cu-Avana Intenso robustos I've had (Intensos are not always good, but some of them are excellent). Also reminded me of Pepin JJ maduros, La Flor Dominicana Grand Maduro #6, and Montecristo Media Noche.

Here's the good part: The 5 Vegas Triple A tastes better than all those cigars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 Vegas Limitada 2009 - Respectable

I give a respectful nod to the 5 Vegas Limitada 2009, a medium-bodied belicoso (6.2 x 52) with some gentle, understated flavor suggestions of nutmeg, vanilla, and pepper. I expected a little more lushness at its price (box of 25 for $200 at Cigars International). However it draws well, burns perfectly, and looks fantastic.

It is obviously a well-constructed cigar. The subtle flavors start to come through during the middle and play out to the end. A gentle ride that gains in intensity, never venturing past medium strength.

If you like mild Ashtons, Montecristos, etc, the 5 Vegas 09 will probably make your taste buds sizzle. I found it bit mild for a corojo-wrapped cigar. The Limitada from a few years back - 2006 - was much fuller and exciting, and the 5-Vegas Miami line remains so, along of course with the knee-knocking 5-Vegas Cask Strength.

Though not the richest dessert in the store, the Limitada 09 is an interesting blend that deserves a try. Do not be discouraged by the awfulness of the standard 5-Vegas "Classic" cigars. The other 5 Vegas blends are all worth trying, and the Limitada 09 is no exception.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your brain on "Acid"

I've tried several Acid cigars, and in a nutshell: Either you like Drew Estate's unique flavor (resulting from curing in a "secret mixture of oils and herbs") or you don't. All the Acids I've tried share a similar but interesting flavor - I don't think he varies the curing - it's all the same formula from what I can tell.

That being said, I do enjoy that "secret blend" on occasion. I don't enjoy the fact that he often adds a flavored tincture to the head of his cigars - which smacks of Swisher Sweets - and in my book a cigar should stand on its own, no silly gimmicks. Short reviews:

Acid Liquid: I've smoked several of these and they tend to have a pleasingly open draw and nice flavor, on the mild side and getting stronger as you smoke. Again, either you like the oils and spices or you don't. A straightforward cigar with no sugar painted on the head.

Acid Blondie: Tastes like a miniature Liquid, but a tighter draw and milder at first. The tip is flavored (yuck!) but the smoke tastes good. This is a narrow, 4-inch long cigar which bored me at first but became wonderfully thick and flavorful in the last 2 inches. I wished it would go on. I managed to get nearly 40 minutes out of it by nubbing.

Acid "Juicy Lucy" - the flavored tip wiped out any possibility of actually tasting the smoke in this itsy-bitsy cigar. I've heard it's good. Good luck tasting anything but sugar.

Java robusto by Drew Estate and Rocky Patel - Not really an "Acid" blend, I guess, but a cousin of the family. Again, the flavored tip ruined this for me. I could sense the smoke had some nice coffee flavor lurking forlornly beneath - but my tongue had fake honey all over it, so I could only surmise.

Acid Opulence 3 robusto - not exactly as "rich and chewy" as the blurb at Cigars International would indicate. It's a dark-black bomber that is surprisingly mild and rather high priced. Again, that pesky flavored tip ruins everything. Get rid of it please, Mr. Drew!

Acid Ltd. Def Sea (6.0" x 52) - a nicely rolled torpedo which tastes- guess what - almost exactly like the Acid Liquid but a bit more refined. No sugar on the tip - so this actually tastes like a real cigar.

Summary: If you're in the mood for an Acid (think: cigar meets incense) almost any of them will do. I prefer the Liquid and Def Sea because they aren't painted with sugar tips.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nice Article, Cigar Scholar!

I read this rant from Cigar Scholar a while ago in Cigar Aficionado "letters" section, and it stuck in my mind ever since. Nice work, Cigar Scholar! I agree with you totally.

How many articles can a man be expected to read about golf, swiss watches, online gambling, and more golf? An endless number, apparently. And the celebrity interviews are conducted at about a 7th grade level.

I also love the fact the five over-entitled bald guys can make or break a cigar brand based on their dubious palates. By dubious I mean, half the cigars they love are just awful dogs. Yes, it's subjective. Yes, no two people are alike. Exactly my point.

One thing I concede: Their cigar reviews are pithy and creative. How many flavors can YOU taste in a cigar? Blueberry? Birch? Teakwood? Lets face it, there are 5 or 6 basic types of cigars, with minor variations in between and the occasional wacko from Drew Estate. Once in a while a cigar tastes really different - but jeeze not all 75 cigars in the issue! Oh well, its fun and I keep buying the magazine like a sucker. Love-hate, like the Scholar says...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Casa Magna Colorado gran toro

The Casa Magna Colorado robusto won first place in Cigar Aficionado's "Best Cigars of 2008" and I've been wanting to try one ever since.

Unfortunately my local cigar shop has only the "gran toro" size, not the robusto. The Casa Magna Colorado gran toro is an adequate full-bodied cigar with a pleasing coffee flavor, but leaves me less than awed. Though well-balanced, it lacks complexity and remains static with little or no development through the ample 90-minute duration. The last third really shouldn't have been smoked. (I don't expect all cigars to deliver all the way to the nub, but it's a nice perk if they do).

On the whole the Case Magna Colorado gran toro is a straightforward full-strength experience, as good as some of the darker (and more expensive) Rocky Patels and Montecristos I've smoked, and much better than the 5-Vegas AAA (which has similar flavor characteristics but runs toward the bitter).

I would still like to try the Casa Magna robusto and hopefully I will find one without having to buy a whole box.

For those of you who have tried the fabulous Casa Magna petite corona  (i.e. the "Pikito") be forewarned that the gran toro has little in common with it. It's as if the two cigars were made with completely different tobaccos, though I'm guessing a subtle variation in the blend alone might account for it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brick House robusto

So I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll... No, I'm not about to tear down this nice flavorful Nicaraguan Puro with a searing review that takes Cigar Aficionado to task for giving it a #17 ranking in its list of the best cigars of 2010.

No need to do that, because the Brick House robusto is indeed a well-constructed medium-bodied cigar with a slightly wheaty, earthy flavor (at times) and an occasional rich moment that uplifts you and makes you hope it will continue that way to the nub (which it doesn't).

I paid less than 7 bucks for this in a cigar shop, which is mighty economical in my highly-taxed region. Because of this, I grudgingly concede that the Aficionados were onto something.

This stick burns well and holds its flavor consistently. However, it wasn't strong enough, rich enough, or complex enough for me to want to buy again. After the halfway mark, it lost a lot of steam, which is the opposite of what I look for as I smoke--namely more steam, full speed ahead.

To my mind, this is not "best cigar of the year" material. But that's just me. Maybe you'll love it, like so many other reviewers have of late. It is not a dog, and worth trying if you like medium strength.