Friday, April 30, 2010

La Aurora Serie 107 Review

Size: 4 ½ “ X 50
Shape: Robusto
Origin: Dominican Republic
Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Equador
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan

Yesterday, I took my seat by the window and, noticing how gorgeous it was outside, decided that it was a day to celebrate. Picking up the cigar for the day, the La Aurora 107 Anniversario, I knew what I’d be celebrating: the 107th anniversary of La Aurora.

This cigar has a lovely equadoran wrapper with consistent color and an oily sheen. Passing the stick under my nose reveals cedar notes with an underlying creaminess that hints at a delicious blend. After cutting the head off with my guillotine (feels very French revolution, non?), I gently drew through the cigar, revealing an underlying peaty quality and some body, which surprised and excited me. I’m accustomed to La Aurora cigars being mild and flavorful. The promise of a La Aurora with some body filled me with anticipation!

The first light was full of oak and cedar notes which carried through to the end. There was a subtle nuttiness that joined the profile early thereafter but the nuttiness came and went as it pleased. At this early stage, the smoke was thick and creamy, providing some spice on the palate and through the nose. The spice in the profile reminded me of perique, a rare and high quality leaf from St. James Parish in Louisiana, primarily used in pipe tobacco. This was a very nice start to say the least.

Throughout the remainder of the stick, the flavor profile remained consistent, but what was surprising is that this La Aurora really does have some body! About half way through the smoke, I became a little light headed, which was surprising, considering my experience with La Aurora. It should be mentioned that I always smoke before I research so I can be as objective as possible with each stick and I didn’t know before I lit up that this guy was supposed to be medium to full. This was a very pleasant surprise.

The body of the cigar continued to pick up through the end, but the intensity only increased in small increments after the initial revving half way through.

I was also very impressed with the construction of this cigar, specifically in reference to the ash. The ash held on very firmly for a the majority of the smoke, finally letting go with only a quarter of the stick remaining, and even then only because I gave it a firm tap over my ash tray. Very nice indeed.

I honestly enjoyed this smoke. There was a lot of thick creamy smoke which became chewy about half way through when the body revved up. The flavor profile was full of sweet oak, cedar, and spice and remained consistent to the end, never becoming bitter or unpleasant. This cigar was a great way to spend a day in celebration. Happy anniversario, La Aurora. And thanks for the gift.

Presentation: 8/10 – Classic La Aurora band showcasing the emblem of La Aurora, the male lion with full mane. Very attractive and elegant.

Appearance: 10/10 – The equadoran wrapper was lovely and oily with no blemished, spots, patches, tears, or holes. Very nice.

Construction: 35/40 – Very good construction overall. The cigar was dense but provided an open draw. I noticed a knot towards the head, but it didn’t prove to be problematic.
Burn: 18/20 – The burn was angled throughout the entirety of the smoke, but it remained consistent and didn’t require any touch ups until just before the end after the ash let go. The 107 gets 3 bonus points for exhibiting its fine construction with an ash that wound up being three times longer than the nub before it finally released its hold.
Draw: 17/20 – The draw was open, allowing me to enjoy the experience without having to work for it.

Flavor: 35/40 – The flavor of the cigar was very nice and straight forward, providing me with excellent pure flavors that I expect from La Aurora with a body that was delightful and surprisingly medium to full. The smoke was consistent and delicious throughout, but the profile was relatively uneventful.

Overall: 88/100 – I enjoyed this cigar and got several delightful surprises from it. I really liked the sweet and spicy oak and cedar notes which were present throughout the smoke, the open draw, and solid construction. This is a cigar that I would recommend to mild to medium fans who are interested in trying something with a bit more body, as well as to those who enjoy a fuller body as well as delicious wood notes in their smoke.

A note on the La Aurora Factory:

From the La Aurora website: ”La Aurora is the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic, founded in 1903 by Don Eduardo León Jimenes, son of a family dedicated to the harvesting of tobacco. It all began in a modest place, on the outskirts of Santiago de los Caballeros, where Don Eduardo implemented his own technique for rolling cigars, one which has prevailed over time. Later, in 1912, at the suggestion of his brother Herminio, the factory was moved to the flourishing city of Santiago, and has continued expanding to the present day.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Omar Ortiz Natural Review

Size: 6.12” X 52
Shape: Belicoso
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

After another long working weekend, I finally got to sit back in my smoking chair next to the window to enjoy a leisurely smoke, and today, the Omar Ortez Belicoso was there to provide it. I liked the way it was presented: very straight forward with a small band at the foot, allowing the cigar to speak for itself. What I like in particular about this band, is that it allows for a surprise when you remove it. The filler of this cigar is darker than the wrapper, providing some interesting visual impact. Even though the filler is darker than the wrapper, the wrapper is not light by any means; it is dark, oily, and toothy with a few veins in it which, admittedly, were lighter in color than the rest of the leaf.

When I ran the cigar under my nose, I experienced wafts of creamy leather and light pepper. The prelight draw was nice and open, offering flavors similar to the scents.

When I lit this guy up, I got a peppery punch in the face. For a moment I thought someone might’ve rolled this cigar with black pepper! Fortunately, the intensity of the pepper thinned out very quickly, giving way to much more delectable flavors.

Throughout the smoke, I experienced varying degrees of leather, caramel, earth, and coffee with sweet compost and spice experienced mostly through the nose. The cigar ramped up a bit towards the middle and the end, and the room began to wobble by the time I’d put the stick down.

I found this cigar to be absolutely delicious all the way through. Even though the overall experience is relatively straight forward, the flavor profile is deep and exquisite, providing a lot to keep any smoker interested. The price for these Nicaraguan Puros is also excellent, especially considering that these tasty power houses come in chests of 60 and are of extremely high quality. I’d call this cigar a full bodied diamond in the rough. Another? Yes please!

Presentation: 7/10 – This is tough for cigars which are deliberately left bare, but the band at the foot is simple, attractive, and efficient. I also enjoy how it masks your ability to see the filler before removing it. It provides a nice surprise when you discover that the filler is darker than the wrapper.

Appearance: 6/10 – An overall attractive cigar. However, it did have some inconsistency in the coloring of the wrapper, being lighter near the leaf’s veins. There were also two spots where small patches of the wrapper had chipped off.

Construction: 33/40 – I found the construction of this cigar to be pretty good. The cigar smoked with little effort, indicating an open draw. The burn was a bit uneven at times and I had to touch it up twice, but after the second touch up it burned much more evenly.

Flavor: 37/40 – The flavor of this cigar was where it really shone. The profile was consistent and complex throughout, never becoming bitter or unpleasant.

Overall: 83/100 – I really enjoyed the flavors that this cigar brought to the table and the complexity that these flavor combinations created. It’s tough to make a cigar which allows a smoker to experience so much range on their palate from sweet caramel to coffee, leather, earth, compost and spice. This cigar is very successful and I have yet to find one of its caliber in its price range.

A note about Omar Ortez Cigars:
The Omar Ortez line of cigars is made by Altadis and comes packaged in chests of 60.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As I sit here typing this post, I am smoking my second Alec Bradley Family Blend from the box I purchased last night and am drawn back to the event and the fantastic evening that it was.

I showed up a little early, as I always do, to see what was going on and to maybe lend a hand setting up tables. It turns out I arrived just in time to lend that hand. Since it was such a gorgeous day yesterday, we got to work setting up a patio for the pre-event smoke with our Alec Bradley rep Barry Blonder.

We first saw Barry walking away from us towards his car and jokingly hollered to him, “Wait! Don’t go!” He seemed to give a smile from a distance and returned from his car with a beautifully designed Alec Bradley folder containing information about the Family Blend and the Prensado lines. As the staff puffed on our Alec Bradley Tempus’, Barry unfurled a ton of information.

First he pointed out that we were all smoking a fine cigar from Alec Bradley, having received ratings as high as 94 in 2008. He then moved on to the two blends we had joined to discuss.

The Family Blend began as a personal product for the three chief executives of Alec Bradley: Alan Rubin (President), Ralph Montero (Vice President), and George Sosa (National Sales Director). But soon, due to customer demand, it was released to the public in chests of 50. After this limited release, it was obvious that Alec Bradley had hit on something profound. Major keys in a good cigar are, generally speaking, construction, flavor, consistency and value. This blend has struck all four chords resoundingly!

After the initial success of the chests, it was decided to create a wider and more accessible release by selling them in boxes of 20, and bundles of 8 (I am proud to say I now own one of each). Fortunately for us, Rocky’s is one of the first retailers in the country to carry the new release, which comes in 5 sizes:
BX2 – 6” X 54
D3 – 4.5” X 58
M23 – 7” X 50
T11 – 6” X 52 and
VR1 – 5.5” X 50.  (This is the shape I bought)

These fantastic smokes are all hand rolled in the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras, the same factory in which another extremely successful blend is rolled, the Prensado.

The Prensado line from Alec Bradley has gotten a lot of positive attention in the last year, receiving ratings of 91 or higher for every shape in the line (Gran Toro 6” X 54 received a 93, Robusto 5” X 50 received a 92, Torpedo 6 1/8” X 52 received a 92, Churchill 7” X 48 received a 91, and Corona Gorda 5 5/8” X 46 received a 91). This earned the blend an overall rating of 91.8 from Cigar Insider, giving the Alec Bradley Prensado the highest average vertical rating for an entire line in 2009. This is quite a remarkable report card. What’s even more impressive is the way customers are responding to the smoke.

Bill, the new guy on staff (just after me), mentioned while he was smoking one that the experience is akin to smoking a Padron cigar. This seems to be the consensus amongst people who have tried this blend. Apparently, Padron smokers are saying that the Prensado smokes like a Padron, delivering the smoothness of the 64 Maduro with the complexity of the 26 Maduro and an extremely open draw to boot. I have yet to experience this cigar, but I purchased one with intent to review.

In addition to discussing these two great lines from Alec Bradley, we talked about a very cool new way to interact with cigar magazines, cigar companies, and the internet: QR code. You may have noticed in some of your favorite cigar publications that a new bar code-like square appears at the bottom of some adds. If you own a smart phone like an iPhone or a Blackberry, you can scan this code and it will take you directly to the company’s website. Unfortunately for me, I do not own one of these fancy phones and so cannot indulge in this cool new feature. Those of you who do should keep a look out, as this is sure to become a standard.

As our Tempests burned down, the conversation slowly meandered onto restaurants and travel and we decided to bring things in off of the porch and into the store to get the event revved up. We all had a great time at the event, smoking, talking, laughing, and buying these fantastic cigars from Alec Bradley. The boxes flew off the table as well as hats and shirts that came along for box buyers (I got a very stylish hat). We also got to try out a new lighter, “The Burner,” which our buddy Barry brought along.

The lighter got passed around and tried by just about everyone who decided to hang out and enjoy a smoke. We were all impressed. My understanding is that Rocky’s will be getting them in soon and you can bet that one will make its way home with me.

We ended the night on a high note with a raffle! The Burner was raffled off, as well as a beautiful black Alec Bradley ash tray, two torch lighters, a bundle of cigars, and several tempests. No one walked away empty handed.

The event last night was a great success; it was tons of fun, we learned a lot about Alec Bradley and their blends, and we made new friends. Thank you to Barry and Alec Bradley for making the event at Rocky’s such an incredible evening. Leave it to a handful of fine cigars to bring people together.



Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alec Bradley Family Blend

Size: 5.5 X 50
Shape: Robusto, triple cap with pig tail
Origin: Honduras
Body: Medium
Wrapper: Honduran Criollo 98
Binder: Indonesian
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

Today was a mildly rainy day, excellent for reflection and a good cigar. I pulled out the Alex Bradley Family Blend from my queue of cigars to review, settled in my smoking chair next to a large open window, and set to it. Pre-light aroma hinted at sweet earth and cedar notes, the cut was smooth and devoid of crumbs, and the draw was open and hinted at a complex flavor profile.

When I put flame to the foot, I immediately tasted leather, pepper and cedar. The flavor quickly began to expand as sweet earth and rich compost flavors began to come into play. (The “compost” flavor is one I recently began to identify with the help of my buddy Buddha at Rocky’s. I’ve referred to this taste in the past as “mystery,” but am happy to have found an effective descriptive noun for this excellent flavor. Thanks Buddha!)

By the end of the first quarter, the rain had briefly abated, and the flavors had expanded further and mingled, incorporating the taste of coffee and toasted cream on the back of the tongue. The profile blended together so that each flavor was only barely discernable from the others as each took its subtle turn at the fore-front.

Throughout this experience, sweet earthen coffee and compost came forward most frequently. Gentle pepper notes drifted across my palate as the rain began to fall again, creating a soothing cacophony of sound while I experienced a delicious cacophony of taste.

Around the half way mark, the body and flavor of the cigar picked up in intensity as the rain on the trees outside did the same. It was like turning up the volume on my favorite music. This section of the smoke is what I would call the crescendo of the experience. Several minutes later, the cigar began to smooth into the finish and mellowed just slightly, splitting the difference between the intensity of the first half and the crescendo. The flavor profile of the cigar never really changed, only provided a shift in intensity which was extremely enjoyable.

As the cigar continued its long and satisfying finish, the rain petered out and left a quiet calm. Comfortable and dry inside, I continued to enjoy the flavor profile as it never let up or faltered until the very end when only the slightest hint of bitterness crept in.

I finally lay the nub to rest before it could burn my fingers, but found myself basking in the post rain atmosphere, enjoying the aroma left in the room, and wondering how many of these sticks I could fit into my humidor.

Presentation: 12/15 – An attractive black, red, and gold band. Simple and elegant.

Appearance: 10/15 – The smooth wrapper had an attractive dark brown color and an oily sheen. Two distinct veins were present and the seams of the wrapper were clearly visible. There was also a crack at the foot of the cigar before lighting.

Construction: 32/35 – The draw was excellent, the pack firm, and the burn consistent. This rating might have been slightly higher, except that the burn went from even to quite wavy at a few points during the smoke.

Flavor: 33/35 – Delicious and complex all the way through. The profile had a lot of depth to it that I really enjoyed. This didn’t warrant a higher rating because a slight bitter note crept in at the very end. It was, however, very slight.

Overall: 87/100 - The construction and flavor of the cigar carry a lot of weight with me, much more than the appearance and presentation, but the Alec Bradley Family Blend did lose some points in these two categories. If the appearance and presentation are everything to you, this may not be your smoke. If what you value is an incredible smoke at a steal of a price, this is your stick.

A note on the Family Blend by Alec Bradley:
Alec Bradley Family Blend cigars were created expressly for the fathers of the company's three principal executives, Alan Rubin (President), Ralph Montero (Vice President), and George Sosa (National Sales Director). Originally available in only one size, the cigars are rolled into a 50 x 5 ½ Robusto shape capped with a classic Cuban pigtail at the head. The cigars were presented in handsome chests of 50 cigars bearing the signatures of David Rubin, Miguel Montero and Reinaldo Sosa, respectively, but are now available in 5 packs and boxes of 20.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pinar Del Rio Sun Grown Toro

Size: 6 X 50
Shape: Toro
Origin: Dominican Republic
Body: Medium
Wrapper: Habano Sun Grown
Binder: Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Rocky’s Price: $7.79

Before I lit this guy up, I decided that it was going to be a movie and a cigar night. I hopped over to Netflix and streamed “The Fisher King,” and I have to say that this cigar is a great movie watching companion.

This cigar has a gorgeous band. Red, gold, and black with some green tobacco leaves surrounding the crest containing the cigar’s name.

The wrapper is a lovely brown/gold/red and has a beautiful oily sheen to it. Running my fingers along it, I discerned no bumps, just smooth as silk.

Lightly pressing and rolling the cigar in my fingers it feels extremely solid with very little, if any, give anywhere along the stick.

Pre-light aroma was subtle and simple, earth and leather notes co-mingling in the nose.

Drawing on the cigar revealed a wide open draw and left some sweet earthy notes with raisin quality to them.

Upon lighting this cigar, I immediately noticed caramel and pepper in the blend. A little bit of a surprise based on the pre-light ritual, but pleasant none-the-less.

Throughout the first quarter, the flavors remained relatively subtle. The pepper faded remaining present mostly through the nose, allowing caramel notes layered over leather notes in (what seemed to me) the mild-medium body of the smoke to take over.

Leather notes took the front seat a bit in the second quarter. At this point I took note of the even burn a consistently gray ash. The ash held on strongly, not willing to drop off until nearly the half way point of the smoke. Nearly three inches!

Arriving at the third quarter I didn’t notice a lot of change, the dominant flavors remained caramel and leather. Towards the end of this section, a slight bitter note crept in, which was a little unwelcome.

The finish was nice. Some earth notes crept their way in, which was a surprise since they had been hiding for the majority of the smoke up to this point. The earth, leather, and caramel all working together at the end made the finish very tasty, despite the bitter background that hung around through the end.

Overall, I like this cigar. The caramel and leather were mellow and soothing throughout the smoke with the pepper adding a slight edge to the experience. Pepper was most present at the start and then through the nose after that. I found the body to be more Mild-Medium than Medium-Full.

This cigar has a lot to offer: excellent construction, near perfect draw, delicious flavor, and a body that won’t send your world spinning. Personally, I prefer a more complex smoke, but a good straight forward smoke like this definitely has its place. If you enjoy a consistent and flavorful cigar with a body that won’t send you reeling, this is your smoke.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

601 Red Label Trabuco

I recently reviewed the EO 601 Blue Box Press, and that lead me to try the 601 Red Label.
Red Label stats are as follows:

Size: 6 1/8” X 58
Shape: Trabuco
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Natural
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

The presentation of this cigar was excellent, like its brother, the Blue. Simple and classy, this one is red and gold with some green tobacco leaves adorning it. The wrapper was dark and lovely with a slightly oily sheen and was silky smooth to the touch.
The pre-light aroma was promising, smelling of sweet earth and pepper. Any time I detect pepper pre-light, I’ve experienced a full bodied smoke and so I made sure to eat a full meal before I dove into this experience. I’m glad I did, because even fully sated I got a buzz off of this cigar.
When I came back to the cigar, I walked through the usual tests: construction was solid and dense with no soft or hard spots discernable; cut was easy and smooth with just a few crumbs; pre-light draw had lots of sweet pepper to it. I could feel it on my lips. I was very glad I ate before I lit this guy.
First light was fantastic! Lots of peppery earthen notes with some caramel undertones dominated and the full body of the smoke was apparent immediately. After the first few puffs, the body mellowed to a more medium profile which made the journey very interesting. Still, the cigar showed what it’s capable of right at the start.
The first quarter of the stick was excellent, tasting primarily of sweet, rich earth, pepper, and caramel. The smoke left a peppery sweet aftertaste in my mouth which I really enjoyed. About half way through this portion, the smoke became creamy, which was a delightful and welcome addition to the party. Unfortunately, this was about the time that the runs started and, to the detriment of the experience, never stopped.
The second quarter of the cigar brought about some bitter dark chocolatey coffee notes which was actually quite nice. Flavors that were present in the previous quarter were still around, but they shared the dominant space with this new coffee-like flavor.
The third quarter of the cigar gave way to the bitter dark chocolate coffee flavors with some creamy caramel still present in the background. I began to feel a pretty decent buzz by the middle of this quarter and was really enjoying the cigar, despite the constant runs and flags that I experienced.
The finish was quite nice, increasing in strength and bitterness. Bitterness in this situation wasn’t awful but more of a characteristic of the chocolate coffee notes present in the smoke. I realized that I hadn’t detected pepper in a while and exhaled through my nose to discover that the pepper was definitely still around. Despite constant runs and flags, the cigar had fixed itself throughout the smoke, but I finally had to do a touch up at this point, just before I put it down.
Overall, I really enjoyed the blend of this cigar and would buy another. The only turn off I experienced was that I found myself constantly wondering whether or not to touch it up due to runs. However, based on my experience with the overall quality of 601 cigars, I believe that I may have just received one that was not quite up to par. But I'll be watching this line to be sure the construction qualities remain high. Despite this issue, I’d go for another as the blend was simply delicious, complex, and interesting all the way down. Despite the price being slightly out of reach to be a frequent smoker for me, I can definitely see myself picking one of these up to enjoy in the future. I sincerely recommend that you do the same.
Happy smoking!

601 Blue Label Maduro

Time for another review! Stepping up to the plate is the EO 601 Blue Box Press
Stats are as follows:

Size: 5.25 x 52
Shape: Box Pressed Robusto
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

I really enjoy the way a good box pressed cigar smokes. Because of the even burn and excellent flavor that this shape often provides, it’s my go-to shape after the robusto. This lovely and delicious offering, blended by master blender Don Pepin Garcia, is no exception.

When I slid this stick out of its cellophane, I gave and admiring, “Oooh.” The overall presentation is excellent: simple and elegant, bound by a single band displaying blue, red, and gold. Classy. However, I did have an issue with the band: it pulled off a small square of the wrapper with it when removed.

Despite the small missing patch, the wrapper was beautifully dark, shiny, and smooth to the touch, with scents of sweet earth and spice in the pre-light aroma. Testing the draw showed the construction of this cigar to be excellent; firm but wide open. Sweet and earthy notes were apparent and had me itching to put a flame to the foot of this stick.

Upon lighting, I tasted spicy sweetness with earth and leather notes in the background. The first quarter of this cigar was complex and interesting, billowing creamy smoke which filled my palate with earthy notes blended with hints of nut, spice, sweetness, and leather. By the end of the first quarter, the body had started to build up a bit and remained medium bodied for most of the cigar. A first class start!

From here on out, the creamy smoke remained very consistent with an earthy leathery sweetness. The spice remained a background presence, mostly notable when exhaled through the nose. The burn was remarkably even throughout and I only experienced a slight run once. No touch ups were ever necessary. I don’t know about you, but I certainly appreciate a low maintenance cigar, and this one fit the bill.

The finish was long and excellent, revving up to a full bodied and spicy smoke to finish off this delicious cigar.

I really enjoyed the 601 Blue Box Press and may buy another from time to time. For the price, I’d say you’re definitely getting what you paid for, but it’s not a poor man’s cigar. A poor man’s once-in-a-while treat, but if you’re operating on a budget, a box purchase may not be in your future. If your budget is a bit more flexible, I’d consider burning a few of these to see if a box of these and your humidor should meet. You may just find that they should.

Happy smoking!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

La Escepcion Edicion Limitada 2009

Up for review we’ve got the La Escepcion Edicion Limitada 2009.

Stats are as follows:

Size: 6.25” x 54
Shape: Gran Gener
Origin: Honduras
Body: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Honduran Habano Talanga
Binder: Ometepe
Filler: Nicaraguan
Rocky’s Price: $6.89

I really enjoyed this cigar. It’s a simple yet complex blend presented nicely, constructed well, and quite tasty.

For those who don’t know (I had to look it up), the Ometepe binder comes from a twin volcano island named Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua located in, you guessed it, Nicaragua. What this says to me is: a rare binder (indeed some claim this is the first cigar to use it!) which must come from extremely rich soil. Promising to say the least!

The wrapper is a smooth and dark Honduran, but not quite what most would call “Maduro.” Its color is a little inconsistent, varying in darkness in places, but still attractive. The dual band presentation is very nice and I appreciate that each stick displays the year on the foot band. The construction feels solid and well done.

Pre-light aroma is excellent with sweet spice and leather jumping up to meet my nose. Some subtle earth notes can be detected as well. This cigar is promising.

The bands were very secure, but came off effortlessly, no tearing, no residue. This was especially impressive to me after pulling off the band from the 601 blue which brought a small amount of wrapper with it. This is not necessarily such a big deal for most, but it’s one of those details that lets one know that Hoyo de Monterrey takes care through every step of cigar production.

Ok, back to the cigar! The cut was smooth, with only a couple tiny crumbs needing to be brushed off before drawing on it. Pre-light draw was delicious with spice and caramel being the dominant flavors. The draw is nice and open. I can’t wait to light this guy!

First light set this stick off to a great start. I taste creamy caramel and spice with a very gentle “leatheryness” to the flavor. The smoke is creamy and delicious. Something else to mention is that there is a distinct “tobacco” taste amongst these other flavors. Now, I generally get annoyed when a reviewer says “it has a tobacco taste to it” because…. What else would it taste like?! It’s tobacco! However, in this case, there’s little else to describe this as. You’ll know what I mean when you try it.

Through the first quarter of the smoke, I tasted a lot of sweet and creamy caramel, leather, spice, and earth in that order. However, it’s not quite a layering experience. It’s more like the caramel fills in the totality of the experience with the leather and earth complimenting it and the spice surrounding the entire experience, although gently.

There’s a slightly bitter note at the back of the throat, but nothing bad.

As the cigar progresses into the second 1/4 , the cigar continues to exhibit a very similar character, with some gentle interplay of the flavors and a hint of coffee creeping in, but it doesn’t stay at the party long. Some dark “chocolatelyness” also steps in to see what’s going on, but apparently isn’t interested, so it, too, leaves rather quickly. Towards the end of the 2nd ¼, the body begins to pick up a hair and the earth comes to the fore front a bit more, taking precedence over the leather notes. About this time, the burn became a little uneven, but this fixed itself rather quickly.

Into the second half of the cigar, the spice almost disappears unless exhaled through the nose, then you know it’s still there. Otherwise, the flavor profile remains consistent with the earth and body picking up a little more. I’m beginning to see where this stick is going. The bitterness also became a little more present in the 3rd ¼ of the stick, but still doesn’t hurt the experience for me.

The finish was nice and long. Earth takes the front seat here, with the other flavors hanging out in the background. The body also picks up and lets you know that you are smoking a medium-full bodied cigar. I can feel a slight buzz coming at this point. This flavor profile remains through the nub, when I finally lay it down. The bitterness started to become a little much for me by the end, but if I had another one, I’d have happily fired it up.

I really enjoyed this cigar. The evolution from creamy caramel and leather into semi-powerful earth was a fun ride and I never found myself feeling bored of the experience. This is a solid medium-full bodied cigar that I would definitely recommend trying. The price is right and, although I’m not sure it’s box worthy for me, I’d definitely pick up a 5 pack to toss in the humidor.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Siglo Reserve Maduro

Hello friends of Rocky’s! My name is David Huber and I’m going to be blogging here regularly with cigar and tobacco reviews as well as keeping you up to date with the latest at Rocky’s Newsstand. I’ve been a pipes and cigars enthusiast for several years now and I love smoking, learning, and talking about tobacco.

That being said, let’s get to it!

As you may have heard, a few weeks ago there was a Siglo event at Rocky’s celebrating the new Siglo Maduro Limited Reserve line. I’d heard good things about this new blend and was anxious to give it a try. The week of the event, I wound up going out of town, but I was not to be deterred! When I got back, I headed over to Rocky’s and picked up two Siglo Maduro Limited Reserve VIs. The stats of the cigar are as follows:

Cigar: Siglo Limited Reserve VI
Size: 6 x 54
Shape: Robusto
Origin: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cubano
Binder: Broadleaf (Nicaragua)
Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaraguan
Rocky’s Price: $7

When I got them home, I immediately pulled one out to have a look. The wrapper was dark and oily, with a beautiful sheen to it and rough to the touch. The wrapper didn’t appear toothy, but it certainly felt that way. The construction felt solid but open. I put it to my nose to get a sense of what the cigar may be like and I smelled rich earth and chocolatey notes with what seemed like some light fruit. Almost raisiny. This guy had some promise.

I snipped the end and gave it the prelight draw test and, let me tell you that once I drew on it, any doubts I may have had (and those were already few, if any) were crushed. I was certain this cigar was going to be a phenomenal smoke, and, as you’ll see, I was right.

Prelight, I got the sense that there was a lot of natural sugar in the blend and the raisiny taste I sensed when I smelled the wrapper and the foot was dominant. The taste reminded me initially of Verdadero Organic. I could not wait to light this guy!

I pulled out my Xikar torch, toasted the foot, and got to lighting. First light experience was heaven, with the gentle taste of sweet earth taking dominance.

In the first quarter of the cigar, I tasted a lot of fruit and earth with some background flower notes that I really enjoyed. When exhaled through the nose I got a brief glimpse of, what seemed to me to be, brandy, but it was gone almost as soon as it was experienced. As the cigar burned on, I noticed that I predominantly tasted the sweet earth I had experienced on first light, and I really liked it. Occasionally, the earth or raisin taste would take a dominant role but would fall back again to mingle with the other. By the time I got to the third quarter of the stick, I started to get some leather notes as the cigar began to build in intensity. I’d say that it was about this time that the fruity raisin taste began to abate and I started tasting predominant earthy leathery tobacco excellence. The cigar also tunneled a little bit. I let it go out, cleared the ash and relit with relative ease. The cigar righted itself, and I was back in business! I was surprised to taste the raisin again, but this time it was mostly raisin and leather I was experiencing, with the earth as a supporting flavor. I also began to experience some very light spice at about this time.

Once I had the cigar burning well again, the earth returned and began to take over. The last quarter of this cigar was awesome! It became very earthy and lightly spicy. When I exhaled through the nose at this point, I was almost overwhelmed by the spicyness of the smoke, but the spice was mostly a background experience when only experienced through the mouth. I swear, once or twice when I exhaled through my nose, I tasted dirt. But good dirt. More like smelling rich soil than falling face first into a puddle of mud. I mean this in the most positive way.

This finish was long and excellent and I honestly did not want to put this stick down. When it got down to where I couldn’t hold it any more, less risk a trip to the emergency room for burns, I grabbed one of my big bowled pipes and tried to stick the nub in. Unfortunately, this experiment failed as the bowl of the pipe wasn’t big enough to accommodate the nub of the cigar and I had to lay it to rest. Thank goodness there are more of these!

I smoked my second one the next day while I was at Rocky’s. I was more willing to put it down when it got to the end, but I was still very satisfied by the experience.

On both cigars, the burn was pretty even. I had a run and a tunnel on the first one, but the run fixed itself and the tunnel was easily fixed and neither compromised the experience. The second stick seemed to burn more evenly with few, if any issues from first light to the end. The tobacco burned down to a grey ash with some black spots in places, so the aesthetic experience was mildly compromised, but, honestly, who cares when the cigar tastes this good?

The only thing I was surprised by was, based on the prelight aroma, that I didn’t notice a lot of chocolate or cocoa when smoking. Has anyone else tried this cigar and had a different sensory experience? Please share!

On the whole, I have to recommend this cigar. If you like a complex, sweet, gently spicy, earthy, leathery cigar, then the Siglo Maduro Limited Edition is one stick you have GOT to try. Fortunately for me, Rocky’s has got them in stock.

Rocky Patel 1999 Connecticut

Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 is a Connecticut smooth smoke

Rocky Patel has made a name for himself selling full flavored, big strength cigars.
But I wondered what the Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 Connecticut would taste like, considering the wrapper alone should create a taste not found in its more full-bodied brothers.
In appearance, the RP Vintage 1999 is a beautiful stick. It’s the wrapper that is the star here. I must admit I love the look of great Connecticut Shade Grown wrapper. When the best of this leaf is put on a cigar it looks so good I’d rather frame it than smoke it! This cigar is just that pretty.
The leaf is a flawless Connecticut Shade Grown wrapper, and today the “genuine article” is harder and harder to find as makers seek out Connecticut shade grown from other regions- either so save money or change taste- but the wrapper of this high a grade that is grown in the Connecticut River Valley is a treat on any cigar. The box boasts that this leaf has been aged 7 years- all the better.
The wrapper color is so golden it’s almost yellow. It’s smooth as silk with almost nothing but the finest of small veins. Certainly this is one pricey CSG leaf. Double cigar bands of white bands with gold lettering against a perfect wrapper enhance the look of the RP Vintage 1999.
The blend, in keeping with RP‘s trend contains Ligero for flavor, both Dominican and Nicaraguan Ligero long fillers bunched in a rich Nicaraguan binder. Think smooth, but flavorful. What a combination.
The cigar does not disappoint. I sniped a smart V-cut into a gorgeous double cap. The lighting was a simple, perfect burn- even, and slow. The ash had that common look of Connecticut shade, gray and black with less white than you may prefer, but as mentioned it’s the way the wrapper burns.
Once past the first inch or so the cigar began to taste a bit nutty, and lightly creamy. A typical result when CSG is the wrapper. This continued right through the stick. I only put it down because the nub got a bit hot. The upside of this cigar is that it’s a great mild stick- the downside it’s not a typical big-flavor RP stick. So if you enjoy milder smokes, this is an excellent cigar. I’d add if you enjoy Rocky’s more full-bodied blends, buy this one in singles from your local before you buy a full box, just in case it’s too mild for your palate.
Simply put this is some smooth smokin’ cigar.

Hoyo de Monterrey Dark sumatra

Up for review we’ve got the Hoyo de Monterrey Dark Sumatra.


Blended by: Estelo Padrón
Size: 5.7 X 54
Shape: Media Noche
Origin: Honduras
Body: Medium
Flavor: Full
Wrapper: Equadoran Sumatra
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran and Dominican
Rocky’s Price: $7.29 for single, $110.31 per box

First off, I love this cigar. Let’s get through the pre-smoking evaluations quickly.

The presentation of the cigar is very nice: three bands and a cedar sleeve. The wrapper is dark and lovely with a light sheen that doesn’t quite qualify as shiny. It has an excellent toothy feel and look to it with an excellent aroma to boot. Chocolate and earth dominate the pre-light aroma with just a hint of manure. The construction is very firm with very little, if any, give. When rolled between the fingers, the wrapper crinkles just slightly. The cut was smooth with only a crumb or two needing to be brushed away before testing the draw. Pre-light draw is wide open with some dominant fruity notes. The flavor reminds me of raisins or dates, which I never tasted in the smoke.

On to the smoke!

Lighting turned out to be no problem, easy and even and delicious! The first flavors I experienced were spice, dark chocolate, earth and caramel. An excellent start! I also tasted something that I could not define, which I will refer to as “mystery” from here on out.

The first quarter of the cigar continued with the flavors I tasted on first light, but I spent the entirety of it experiencing something I rarely have the joy of experiencing with tobacco: image. I’ve only experienced this twice, once with Chelsea Morning (a pipe tobacco blend), and once with Dark Sumatra.

While doing some reading about tobacco recently, I discovered an article by G.L. Pease, an artisanal pipe tobacco blender, about how smell is the sense that is most closely tied to memory. I’ve also seen this at and found it intriguing. Since taste and smell are so closely related, they inform each other of the experience one sense is having and, sometimes, this experience conjures memories and images. The Dark Sumatra gave me one such experience.

I don’t know how many of you folks out there like to get outdoors to hike, camp, fish, etc., but I for one am a born hiker and camper. I love to get outdoors away from the sounds of the city to enjoy the sensual experience which they provide. A stream flowing past your path or through your toes while the sun warms your shoulders and the wind sways the trees. The smell of earth all around you bringing a sense of peace and calm, wholeness and oneness. This is the memory that Dark Sumatra conjured up for me.

I remained lost in this visual memory for quite some time as I smoked this cigar, enjoying the consistent chocolate, earth, and coffee notes as they danced around my palate while my feet remained in the stream and the sound of the wind rustling the trees filled my ears. I could almost feel the cool air on my skin and the warm sun on my face. The smoke is cool and it fills my mouth and nostrils like fresh, crisp air.

In reality, I was seated in a chair at Rocky’s with the TV on, folks talking around me, and Buddha, Mike, or Dave going to and from the humidor, but I was barely there.

I remained lost in this stupor as the cigar developed in body and flavor, transforming into coffee with chocolate cream. The spice pulled way back into the background as I sat on the bank of the stream sipping my coffee with chocolate cream, fresh and steaming from the pot I’d set on the morning camp fire. The quality of the smoke developed a subtle creaminess about it that only highlighted the memory and images that were playing out for me. All the while, the taste of mystery never left the cigar, keeping me entranced in the images.

I hardly even noticed when I began to get to the end of the cigar, only realizing it because I began to taste a slight bitterness, which put a crack in my memoryscape and brought me back to the room. I enjoyed the finish of the cigar, even though the taste of mystery had vanished as bitterness took its place. Even though a bitter note stepped in, everything else that made the cigar amazing remained, sweet chocolate now in the background, coffee now sharing the foreground with earthy notes. By the time I set down the nub, I felt a supreme sense of satisfaction and quickly dove into the humidor to buy another.

To summarize, this cigar has that rare quality that you seldom find in any tobacco product: magic. This cigar is drastically underpriced in my opinion. I don’t generally like to tell people what to buy, as I really think it should be up to you whether or not you do. I like to share my experience and hope that it informs your decision making. In this case, I highly recommend picking up a box. Maybe two.