If you live in the British Isles like me and someone mentions Gurkhas, there are good chances you are not thinking about cigars: you might be thinking about the fierce Nepalese soldiers, but even more probably about Joanna Lumley and her fight for the Gurkha’s rights in the UK. Still, if you are interested in cigars the name should sound familiar, if only as the brand that made one of the most expensive cigars, if not THE most expensive cigar ever, going for a whooping 1150$ a pop.
That cigar was the original Black Dragon, released in 2006 as a very limited edition: just 5 hand-carved camel bone boxes of 100 cigars were produced. In 2007 Gurkha released a new more accessible version but after that things become a bit more confusing. The original cigar had the classic Gurkha warrior band as you can see here. The suddenly sometime in 2009 the band changed to show a dragon as you can see above. The band seem not to be the only thing that changed. In its pdf catalogue (caution, huge file) the make up is given as Cameroon wrapper, Dominican binder and Nicaraguan filler – but the online catalogue states the Wrapper is now Connecticut broadleaf with Cameroon binder and Dominican filler… so possibly the one I am smoking tonight should be called the Gurkha Black Dragon Robusto v3.0. Continue reading
A while back I smoked one of La Aurora cigars, the Maduro Robusto from the La Aurora “basic” line. Although I was a bit disappointed the cigar still had something that tickled my taste buds and I mentioned back then that I would be looking to try more of the cigars from this brand. As often happens, that sort of slipped my mind, until a few days ago Cigar Inspector posted his as always interesting review of the Series 1495 Robusto from La Aurora. Guess what: I had exactly the same cigar in my humidor, I had wanted to try it for a while and I had completely forgotten about it! So thanks to Cigar Inspector for acting as inspiration for this review.
The 1495 series certainly isn’t a new release: it was created in 2005 by Jose’ Blanco, the sales director of La Aurora and celebrates the year when the town of Santiago de los Caballeros was founded , in the heart of Dominican Republic’s foremost cigar region El Cibao, by Cristoforo Colombo (Cristopher Columbus for you non-Italian speakers out there). There is an interesting interview with Blanco on Cigar Aficionado which describes how this cigar came to be and the idea behind it. I am certainly intrigued to read that this has some Peruvian ligero in its filler, which is new to me. Continue reading
It’s winter, it is cold and it snows, plus guess what… unlike some lucky bastards out there, you can’t smoke inside the comfort of your own home, so what do you do? You look for nice short smokes. There are plenty of machine-made cigarillos to choose from out there, but what I am interested in are handrolled cigars so that’s what I stick to. Unfortunately short smokes are not that popular today: trying to find a cigar that smokes in 20-30 minutes can be a challenge. And even if Habanos is trimming shorter and thinner cigars more and more away from its production, there still are nice smokes on their catalogue if you are looking for a quick cigar, and none more so than the Cohiba Panetela.
We probably all know the history of Cohiba: about its birth in 1966, the initial years as the private brand for Castro and his high ranking official and how it was used as gift for foreign diplomats. It was 1982 when it finally was released to the general public. As a brand this has certainly come a long way from being a limited and exclusive production and probably no other cigar today says Cuba like a Cohiba. Likewise the range has grown a lot with the Siglo line introduced in 1994 and the Maduro line in 2007, plus the various special releases. Still, at the very start of the story there were just three cigars: the Lancero, the corona Especiale and the Panetela. Continue reading
Today I am looking at another of the NUb cigars, the Cameroon 466 BPT (Box Pressed Torpedo). A couple of weeks ago I had reviewed the NUb Connecticut and I will be trying the Habano soon, covering the original NUb lineup but not the Maduro which was introduced later. (If anybody who is reading this has a couple of spare NUb Maduros you’d like to trade for drop me a line in the comments below). On top of that later this year there should also be the release of the much awaited and by now semi mythological NUb Miami line, so it is nice to know we have another NUb to look for.
I gave a short intro to the NUb line for anyone unfamiliar with it (probably very few, especially if you are reading from the US) in the previous post so if you are interested in knowing more follow this link. Today instead I wanted to talk a moment about Cameroon wrappers before I dig into the review.
Cameroon wrappers have a real cult following in the cigar lover’s community. Many people, like twitteree extraordinaire Lindsay Heller (for my money her twitts are among the best and more intelligent in the Cigar twitter scene) have declared their love for this wrapper. I must admit that I have had very nice cigars with Cameroon wrapper, but also some that were thoroughly disappointing. This might have to do with the cigars themselves and not with the wrapper, but still it made me curious so I went and read as much as I could about this much sought after leaf.
A while back I received a sampler of Perdomo cigars from a US BOTL. I was pretty curious to try them and had originally planned to smoke them quite soon… which didn’t really happen. As many of my plans, this was diverted as I got interested in other cigars, then some more… and more. In part it also has to do with the slight disappointment in the Lot 23 Maduro I smoked a while back.
Having said that, even the slight Lot 23 disappointment didn’t change my opinion of Perdomo as a brand: solid every day cigars, well made, enjoyable and interesting though not terribly complex. Maybe I am doing a disservice to Perdomo cigars here. I haven’t tested their top end smokes yet (Edicion de Silvio, Patriarch) so maybe there are complex blow-your-head-off cigars in the range. Having said that, I don’t think there is anything wrong in making cigars that are reasonably priced and good, even if they don’t win prizes: so kudos to Perdomo Cigars for what they offer. Continue reading
For the second installment of my Aging Project I am looking at a mild Cuban smoke, the Fonseca KDT Cadetes. In general the predominant wisdom on cigars is that medium and full-bodied cigars age while mild ones simply tend to go flat. Yet, as I mentioned in the Por Larrañaga post, for certain mild Cubans you find that experts suggest a few years of aging to bring out their full potential. The Fonseca KDT Cadetes fit the profile of a mild cigar nicely and at the same time I must admit I am slightly cheating here: I have had a few of these with 3-4 years on them and they can be very nice cigars, dominated by nutty notes, cocoa, a little spice and mild honey sweetness. The box I will be following while it ages is from November ’08, so younger than the KDTs I’ve had in the past. It will be interesting to see how these yonger cigars measure up.
The other reason for choosing these is more personal. Personally, I think Fonseca is a much overlooked Cuban brand. The reason for this is probably a combination of many seeing this as a beginner’s brand and the fact that, unlike most other Cuban brands, the Fonseca cigars play more around mellow flavours instead of showing the powerful profile most people identify Cuban smokes with. While these certainly make good beginner’s cigars, in the best cases they are very nice light refined smokes and not expensive either. In my experience the No.1, a Lonsdale, is probably the best expression of what Fonseca cigars can deliver while the Cadetes are a simpler smoke, but still not without complexity. Too bad Habanos has discontinued the Fonseca Invictos in 2002, a perfecto looking like an inverted torpedo (for a picture see Trevor’s Cuban Cigar site), which from what I have read not only had a cool looking shape but also was one of the best Fonseca Vitolas: I would have loved to try one of these.
It is hard to imagine the world of cigars without Rocky Patel, and yet just 15 years ago Patel was transitioning from being an attorney in Hollywood to starting his cigar company, originally called Indian Tabac. In just a couple of years Indian Tabac had managed to make its mark on the US cigar market, especially with cigars like the Super Fuerte, arguably the original rich “super stong” cigars. In 2002 the name of the company changed, allegedly over licensing clashes with Indian Motorcycle Co., to Rocky Patel Cigars and over the past 8 years it has released a number of iconic smokes like the 1990 and 1992 Vintage, the Edge, Old Worlde Reserve and clearly the Decade I am reviewing today.
One thing that amazes me is the amount of flak Rocky Patel gets on the cigar web community; there clearly are a lot of people who like his cigars but his critics seem quite vociferous too, actually more vociferous than critics of other brands. Being pretty new to the world of non-Cuban cigars and the USA cigar market I don’t expect to fully understand the reasons for this, but it seems undeniable that Patel has been a major player in shaping what the cigar industry looks like today and deserves respect for that.