Things have been a but quieter around the blog than I would have wanted, but with work and travel taking up most of my time, I haven’t really had time to smoke that many cigars or write up much. Having said that, there are a few reviews lined up for the blog and these will come up soon.
Today I am going back to Connecticut shade wrapper cigars. A while back I mentioned I started to look at these lighter smokes with more attention after I was really impressed by one brand among them. Today I am looking at that very cigar, the Oliva Connecticut Reserve Robusto.
Oliva needs little introduction. In very few years this has become a major brand on the cigar market and recognised for its quality and consistency. Still, until recently it certainly was not a brand known for making mild cigars. The O and G line, and especially the V line are better known for their rich flavours, and in the latter, their full body. Just under a year ago Oliva decided to launch the Connecticut Reserve which covers the missing space body-wise in their range. Continue reading
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
I have to admit that in general I am one of those cigar smokers that finds the flavours of Cuban cigars on average a good step or two above to those of non Cubans. It might be a matter of taste, of what I am use to, but to me Cubans generally have a richness that is seldom beaten. And still, one thing I really envy my US BOTLs is the wide variety of cigars available across the pond. At times mind-boggling, the variety of cigars is like manna to a curious cigar lover like me. Yet inevitably with so much choice you might end up missing a particular producer for quite some time before you get round them, just like me with Padilla.
Ernesto Padilla cigar venture might seem the classical Cuban expat’s story, but it is particular for a number of reasons. Although of Cuban origin and with some tobacco connections, Ernesto Padilla doesn’t come from the classical cigar-maker’s family background, like the Perdomos or Fuentes. Instead, he is the son of a prominent Cuban poet Heberto Padilla. Heberto was initially a supporter of Castro’s revolution but, progressively more dissatisfied with the regime, ended up being a strong dissident facing arrest in the ’70s. His persecution by part of the Cuban regime created quite a lot of noise in the intellectual world. His obituary on the Guardian describes his life much better than I ever could. Continue reading
This is the first installment of a feature I plan on running regularly on the blog: a matchup between two cigars that share something in common. This might be the same producer, the same tobacco or similar and see what the differences and similarities between the two are… and especially who the winner is!
Going head to head in this matchup are two cheap cigars made by Jose’ Fuego for two large online retailers: the Royal Nicaraguan Claro Robusto, exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop, vs. the Casa Fuego Robusto, exclusive to Cigars International. Although the Casa Fuego has officially a higher price (4$) than the Royal Nicaraguan (2.60$), it seems to go for a similar price on the cigar auction sittes in the US, so I expect both be of similar make, e.e. hand rolled mass produced cigar made on a budget. Add the fact that both are made by the same producer and the question starts to pop up: will there be a real difference among the two? And will a producer like J. Fuego, admired for cigars like the 777 and the Delirium – both small boutique productions- manage to knock off a great cheap mass produced smoke? Continue reading
It always feel a bit awkward posting on a new blog from scratch, but everything need a start, so here goes. This first review looks at the Perdomo Lot 23, and specifically the Maduro Robusto stick. Perdomo,which like many other Central American cigar producer has Cuban roots, is a well established brand in the US cigar market which is not commonly sold here in the UK. I got this cigar as part of a sampler from a US BOTL on UK Cigar Forum and I’ll be reviewing these in the next weeks. I have had a few Perdomos in the past and generally always had good experiences, though not great. (but I haven’t tried yet the ESV or Edicion de Silvio, which should be the cream of the crop). One problem that quite a few people mention on US cigar discussion forums is that Perdomo cigars don’t burn great. In my experience that is not the case, but I’ll have a better opinion once I smoke my way through the whole lot of them.
Lot 23 is a cigar made (mainly, more about that in a moment) from tobacco grown on a single farm, not surprisingly called Lot 23 (nothing more poetic available guys?) in Esteli, Nicaragua. According to the Perdomo website all the tobaccos used to make these stogies were bale aged fo four years, rolled then aged a further six months before distribution. The Lot 23 were originally released in 4 vitolas (robusto, toro, churchill and torpedo) with an Ecuadorian wrapper holding the Lot 23 binder and filler, but later included the Maduro I am smoking today; this broadleaf wrapper is also from Nicaragua and although I couldn’t find exact informations, I suppose it might also come from Lot 23. Having dabbled in wine tasting for quite a few years (both professionally and as a hobby) I find the idea of a single farm cigar interesting; the idea is a bit like the one behind a single cru wine, where you expect the flavour of the local climate and earth to shine through, what the French masterly sum up in the word terroir. Will that shine through on this Lot 23 Maduro? Sure hope so. Let’s get smoking! Continue reading