Thursday, June 17, 2010

La Aroma de Cuba EE #55

Size: 5.75” X 50
Shape: #55
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Equadoran Sun Grown
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock:

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When it rains it pours. In this case, I am happy to refer to several gorgeous days in a row, sans rain. With such a slew of blue sky days, how could one not step outside and enjoy them with an excellent cigar in hand?

The cigar of the day was the La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial (EE) by Ashton. This cigar is smooth, veiny and colored a rich brown tone, smelling of leather, earth, and coffee surrounded by a subtle sweetness. Tasting this stick prelight provided me mostly with a sense of the strength of the blend with only light notes of raisin and leather detected.

Lighting this guy up, I got a nice combination of leather and spice with spice leading the way. This lead beautifully into the first quarter as the profile melted into salt and pepper, leather, cedar, and cashew notes.

The first quarter evolved slightly, providing some coffee notes before its time had passed. By the time the second quarter began, the profile had begun to taste smokey, like sitting around a campfire. Fortunately, these camp fire notes were not overwhelming but supporting and lead neatly into the next section of this stick.

Throughout the second quarter, the individual flavors detected in the first quarter melded together to create a very interesting and complex profile, supported by the camp fire quality of the smoke.

I lazily gazed at people as they passed by and began to notice that the pepper note had all but vanished from the palate. I tried rolling smoke through my nose and discovered that, despite its disappearance on the palate, spice had remained a major player through the nose. Once I got into the third quarter, the profile had stabilized with the camp fire note remaining a strong supporter of the blend.

I finally lay this stick to rest just as the camp fire note began to take its place in the front, but found myself completely satisfied none-the-less.

When it rains it pours. In this case, I refer to two great cigars from La Aroma de Cuba experienced one gorgeous day after the next. What an excellent start to the week!

Presentation: 9/10 – The La Aroma de Cuba EE received an additional band recently. You can see it in the photo. This band is so new that Ashton doesn’t even display it on their website. It’s a beautiful addition to an already stellar design. The main difference on the main band is the addition of a second lady to the focal image. Two lovely Cuban ladies instead of one? I can live with that.

La Aroma de Cuba Robusto

Size: 5 X 54
Shape: Robusto
Origin: Honduras
Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Honduran
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran / Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock:

It was another lovely day for a stroll, so I grabbed the Ashton La Aroma de Cuba and headed for the park. I found a comfortable bench near the water fountain and unsheathed this delicious stick.

The La Aroma de Cuba gave off delectable wood and leather notes accented by pepper. Pepper played a more dominant role when I drew on the cigar, supported by smooth cashew flavors.

Upon lighting, I tasted mostly pepper followed by the arrival of leather and oak notes in the first quarter. The cashew flavor that I sensed prelight crept in a little but remained a subtle player in the background.

As the second quarter began, the cashew note crept up into a position of shared dominance with the pepper and leather notes as oak crept into the background. The pepper note began to abate by the end of this quarter, but remained present when rolled through the nose. By the start of the third quarter, the smoke had become creamy with cedar and cashew notes dominating the profile.

With the profile mellowing out, I decided to dip my toes in the fountain. The water was cool and soothing and the cigar was smooth and creamy. What a great combination!

I finally set the stick down, fully satisfied with the journey the profile took me on: starting with pepper, leather, and oak and evolving into creamy cedar and cashew. This cigar was eventful and delicious.

Walking home, I considered picking up a few more to tuck away in my humidor for another gorgeous day when a quick dip in cool water and an excellent smoke are always welcome.

Presentation: 9/10 – The band has a nice shape and draws your focus to the name of the cigar and the Cuban woman featured on the band. Attractive colors provide a nice sense of contrast, allowing the “La Aroma de Cuba” to stand out and be noticed. The sides of the band feature images from Cuba: a dock by the bay and a tobacco plantation. The band is full of nostalgia and beautifully designed. Well done!

Appearance: 7/10 – The wrapper is dark and toothy. The color is a little inconsistent, becoming lighter towards the head. The wrapper on my stick was cracked but not bad. It burned right through the troubled area.

Construction: 32/35 – The burn was uneven but the cigar constantly fixed itself, allowing me to ignore what could have been issues. The pack was nice and firm all through yet still provided an open draw.

Flavor: 43/45 – The flavor profile of this cigar was very high quality and made a delightful evolution throughout the course of the smoke that I really enjoyed. It kept me interested the entire time and delighted me at every turn. An excellent blend.

Overall: 91/100 – Well constructed, well presented, and masterfully blended, the La Aroma de Cuba really delivered. The burn was the only issue I had with the cigar, but it continually fixed itself, making it a non-issue. I highly recommend this cigar and encourage anyone who enjoys a complex medium-full smoke which provides the smoker with a journey across the palate to pick up a few sticks of this blend to sample.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arturo Fuente Rosado Gran Reserva

Size: 6 ¼” X 54
Shape: R54
Origin: Dominican Republic
Body: Full
Wrapper: Equadoran Rosado aged 8-10 years
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Smoke Clock: 1hr 15mins

No matter where I go, I like to find a nice spot where I can smoke in peace. Being in Cortland for the summer, I’ve found a lovely park downtown which serves the turn. So when I pulled out this stick that is just where I went.

I chewed on my Arturo Fuente Rosado Gran Reserva on the way and after finding a nice park bench to rest on, I set to work (if you can call it that). This cigar smells of earth and leather and delivers some deliciously sweet raisin and apricot notes prelight. Given that this is a firm and sturdy stick, the draw wasn’t bad. However it wasn’t wide open either.

Putting a flame to the foot, I experienced lots of leather and tobacco flavors with some light salt and pepper on the palate. This blend is very naturally sweet and I have to give a pat on the back to Arturo Fuente for blending this cigar in such a way that the natural sugars in the leaf come through. I can see why this cigar is so hard to find (and not just because it’s a limited release!).

The first quarter continued to deliver natural sweetness, which accented the leather and caramel notes that evolved into the second quarter. When these flavors mingled just right I could swear I tasted sweet tea.

The caramel note gave way to some wood and subtle coffee notes as the second quarter progressed. This cigar was certainly full flavored!

As the breeze blew, the birds chirped, and the kids played in the grass, the third quarter of my cigar kept up its flavorful progression, but only slightly so. Leather notes returned and mingled with the wood and coffee notes while the natural sweetness of the tobacco continued to support the entire experience.

By the time I reached the finish, the sweetness had finally begun to abate, although it never completely went away.

As I meandered home from the park, I couldn’t help but reflect on how enjoyable a smoke the Rosado Gran Reserva was. It is one of the sweetest blends I’ve tried without the addition of flavoring and provided a smooth but full bodied smoke. Bravo!

Presentation: 8/10 – The band on this stick is simple and elegant. It is designed to give weight to the Arturo Fuente crest in the center and is certainly eye catching. My understanding is that this band was slightly redesigned for this blend and their efforts paid off.

Appearance: 8/10 – The wrapper is toothy, oily, veiny, and medium brown in color with just a hint of red to it when the light hits it at an angle. The color is a little inconsistent as the foot and shoulder are lighter than the rest of the stick. This isn’t a major issue, just a slight cosmetic faux pas.

Construction: 30/35 – This cigar has a relatively good draw but isn’t as open as I’d like. The pack is solid all through, which may contribute a little to the draw being a little less than open. My only major issue here was the burn. The cigar ran from the first light and continued to run until the end.

Flavor: 43/45 – The flavor of this cigar was excellent, providing an unparalleled natural sweetness to support the leather, caramel, wood, and coffee notes that evolved throughout the smoke. Excellent blending, to say the least.

Overall: 89/100 – Well blended, tasty, full flavored, and interesting, the Rosado Gran Reserva provides an excellent smoke for the buck. I really enjoyed smoking this cigar, despite the constant runs that I experienced. The flavor was consistent but took some interesting turns. The natural sweetness of this blend is what really makes it stand out in comparison to most other blends. I highly recommend burning one of these at your earliest convenience as it is a limited release and is pretty tough to find. There are only a few retailers who carry this release and Rocky’s is one of them. Drop in on your lunch break or on your way home to sample one. This limited release won’t be around forever and missing out on a blend like this would certainly be a travesty.

Good luck and happy puffing!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

CAO La Traviata Divino

Size: 5 X 50

Shape: Divino

Origin: Nicaragua

Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Colorado Brown Equadoran
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan / Dominican

Smoke Clock: 1hr

A few nights ago, after a long day of work, I decided to make the short walk from my summer housing in Cortland to a nearby park to light up a bit of rolled tobacco. My companion for the evening: CAO La Traviata.

The wrapper on this guy was a rich and dark color, oily, smooth, near seamless, and absolutely mouth watering. I passed the stick beneath my nose to get a better sense of just how delicious this stick might be and smelled complex cedar and sweet farmland. This guy had a lot of promise.

I nipped the end and put the cigar to my lips for a pre-light test and tasted light spice and pepper with some subtle sweet fruit notes on the back of the palate. In addition to the excellent flavors, the draw was very open, which only added to my already mounting lack of patience to get this stick lit.

At long last I lit up and immediately tasted an excellent mingling of pepper and leather. These first light flavors stayed pretty dominant in the profile for the majority of the smoke, slowly giving way to a pure tobacco taste during the third quarter. The pepper and spice smoothed out during the second quarter and were all but gone by the second half of the cigar. Despite their slow retreat to the back of the profile, spice and pepper remained a subtle but dominant note when rolled through the nostrils.

As the finish progressed, little else occurred in the evolution of the profile. I appreciated that quality in this smoke as the tasty flavors remained tasty; never allowing a bitter note or other flavors to muddy up what was a consistently delicious flavor profile.

Having enjoyed a simple yet delicious smoke, I took my time walking home to enjoy the calm of the evening. Even though it had been a long day, it was nothing that a great smoke and a peaceful evening couldn’t fix. Fortunately for me, I got both.


Presentation: 5/10 – I’m just not a fan of this band. The focus of the design is a bit chaotic, placing several small images around the name of the cigar which was probably meant to lend focus to the name. This plan might have succeeded if the name of the cigar wasn’t almost the same color as the background and they hadn’t executed the idea in such a busy way. My attention is drawn much more to the color of the tiny images than it is the name of the cigar, which seems counterproductive to me.

Appearance: 8/10 – A dark, oily, smooth, and near seamless wrapper holds this stick together. Despite the overall beauty of the wrapper, I did find a small blotch on it about the size of a nail head.

Construction: 33/35 – The pack was consistent and firm and the draw quite open. Nicely done.

Flavor: 43/45 – Even though this cigar wasn’t especially complex, it really delivered on the purity and quality of the flavors it intended to showcase in the blend. The profile offered some mild evolution but ultimately remained consistent all the way to the end. This is a very tasty, well executed, and straight forward blend.

Overall: 89/100 – Overall, this is a very consistent, well constructed, and tasty smoke. For those of you who enjoy a straight forward, no nonsense cigar with a consistent flavor profile, this may become your go-to smoke.