Posts

More Than I Expected

I am backlogged in my cigar reviews which is a good problem. So let’s get on with the enviable task of reviewing cigars. As policy how and were I received the cigar does not impact my subjective judgement. If this review interests you, please try the cigar yourself.

Cigar Review:

Brand/Name of Cigar: Punch/ Gran Puro Santa Rita
Country of Origin: Honduras
Size:  4.5 x 52
Wrapper: Honduras 
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Shape; Petit Robusto
Where and when smoked; Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles, Ca. 3/5/17

Appearance/Construction:

Wrapper is a shade of medium to almost dark brown. Oil is present on the wrapper but not slick. Not a pretty looking smoke but appears to be well made. Texture is pleasant with no rough or hard spots. It appears to have solid construction throughout.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

The blast of spice hits right away but you expect that from a Punch product. The black pepper opens up the palate so get ready for a full bodied experience. There is no subtle nuances in this cigar. Hold on to your butt (pun intended).

Smoking Characteristics :

Cigar is doing a very good job of being true to it’s burn, as the flow is steady, no hot spots or issues with any aspect due to good construction. What did surprise me was the second third produced a composite of cream and nuts. The spice was still evident but not bone shaking.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

I am always been partial to Punch Products from Honduras. I also like the product from Cuba but that’s another story.  They manage to produce well crafted smokes, at a reasonable price point. The cigar in question was a real crowd pleaser for the full bodied fans. Actually those who are partial to medium profiles should give the cigar a try.

Final Thoughts and Numbers:

Appearance and Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 4 out of 5
Overall : 4 out 5

The Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita is a classic win. It has all the markings of a outstanding smoke with the added bonus of a reasonable price.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The Urban Fishing Pole.

Cigar Aficionado Was Right

Best cigar of the year rankings are always anticipated. They create discussions, thoughts and sometimes anger. I like reading about them but most of the time have not smoked the majority of the cigars in the rankings. Cigar Aficionado magazine, the mostly well respected publication, put Rocky Patel’s sun grown maduro in the number 2 slot in 2016. Maduro cigars are not my favorites but I do appreciate a well made cigar regardless how the blend is formulated. Rocky Patel cigars are for some the pinnacle of cigar making. For others they are the Walmart of smokes. Plenty choices but of dubious quality.
Here is my thoughts on the 2016 #2 ranked cigar from CA. It’s a toro smoke and not the robusto shape that were reviewed by Cigar Aficionado.

Brand/ Name of Cigar: Rocky Patel/ Sun grown Maduro Special Reserve
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Sungrown Connecticut Broad leaf Maduro
Binder: Dual Binder, Nicaragua
Shape: Toro
Where and When smoked: Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles, Ca. 2/19/17

Appearance/ Construction: 

Almost a flawless cigar with a dark chocolate wrapper, box pressed and an oily touch. There are several large veins showing but totally not an issue. The cigar band completed the smoke giving it a very luscious look. The construction was outstanding.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

Initial foray was a very choice chocolate flavor with a hint of black spice in the mix. Also some notes of vanilla as we progress through the first third. The flavor was consistent with a medium strength profile no harsh or bitter hints as some maduro smokes get.

 Smoking Characteristics:

The burn was straight, cool with a pleasing to the eye grey ash. No problems with uneven patterns.  Smoke continued to be faithful with the chocolate flavor.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

This is a dynamite cigar with all aspects that makes the Rocky Patel Sungrown Maduro a world class cigar. The Rocky Patel brand has been an enigma to me as they can produce such a fabulous smoke and also make run of the mill smokes. I understand manufacturers need to appeal to all price points and tastes but I hope Rocky keeps aiming for a higher plane.


Final Thoughts:

Here is the number breakdown.

Appearance/Construction: 4.5 out of 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 4.5 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 4.2 out of 5
Overall: 4.3 out of 5

This is a total winner from Rocky and suggest go out a buy a assortment of all sizes.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The Urban Fishing Pole

Best Cigar Of The Year, So Far

Brand/ Name of Cigar: Montecristo/ Pilotico/ Pepe Mendez
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6.2 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican, Nicargua
Shape: Toro

Where and When Smoked: 1/1/2017

Appearance/ Construction: 
Attractive rich looking brown wrapper, slight veins showing but no obvious flaws or defects. Good looking labels which brings out the the oil in the wrapper. No soft spots in the handling of the cigar.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:
Initial third was very smooth with a combination of nuts and sweet hints of chocolate. Medium strength in the flavor with no hits of spice or pepper. Very consistent in the taste with no deviation from this combo. Aroma was sweet, not pungent with the nutty smoke dominating.

Smoking Characteristics: 
The burn was even with no hot spots or tunneling. The ash was a solid white but needed two re lights  during the second third of the smoke. No real apparent reason for this as the construction for the smoke appeared well made. Maybe I missed something in my initial look.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:
Price aside which is on the high end, I liked the overall quality of this cigar.  It was consistent in flavor however there was no wow factor in this smoke. The two relights were a bit baffling so maybe it was in my handling of the cigar.

Final thoughts:

Here are the numbers:
Appearance/ Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/ Taste and Aroma: 3.5 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3 out of 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.5 out of 5

I appreciate a well crafted, thought out cigar which brings the consumer a variety of taste and flavor. Somehow the Montecristo Pilotico missed the mark for me. It fell a bit short on just about all avenues of an outstanding cigar.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The Urban Fishing Pole.

#1Of 2016 – La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull

Here is an unusual, perhaps unfamiliar cigar that gleams with distinction but doesn’t have much market history, as it only came out last summer. The wrapper is a striking hue somewhere between red and brown and the beautiful shape is all curves and tapers. Salomones, as they’re known in cigar factories, are far from an easy cigar to craft. Look closely at the band, which is a shade of emerald green, and you see the letters “LFD”: La Flor Dominicana. The cigar is called the Andalusian Bull, and nothing about it is typical.

But nothing about its creator, Litto Gomez is typical either. With Gomez, you’ll find few of the tropes and stories typically associated with men in the tobacco business. No family history in tobacco. No Cuban lineage. No passed-down tobacco traditions. Born in Spain, but raised in Uruguay, Gomez came into the cigar industry in 1994 after a stint in the jewelry business went sour. His initial cigars were mild, but Gomez started getting the attention of premium smokers when he began producing stronger blends rolled in unusual shapes. Some will remember the El Jocko Perfecto No. 1 and all should know the wedge-shaped Chisel. Such odd shapes have become mainstays in the cigar world. Among serious smokers, the Chisel is now synonymous with La Flor Dominicana—which brings us to the Bull.

The La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull is a truly new concept within La Flor’s portfolio of fine cigars. The size is based on that of an old cigar mold that Gomez found in Belgium. Naming it after Andalusia was a nod to Spain, the country where Gomez was born. And the silhouette of a matador on the band represents the celebrated history of the sport of bullfighting in Andalusia. That eye-catching shade of green is similar to that found on the Andalusian flag. But there’s more to decode. The font on the band is based on Pablo Picasso’s handwriting—he loved to paint bulls—and the scrollwork reflects patterns found on a bullfighter’s uniform.

Fittingly, with this combination of heavy-handed and subtle symbolism comes a blend that is both bold and refined (like a bull and a matador). Gomez and his son Tony collaborated on the cigar and spent a fair amount of time fine-tuning the blend. The result was a cigar as intriguing in flavor as it is in appearance. It’s a combination of Corojo-seed Ecuador Habano wrapper on a blend that consists primarily of Dominican Criollo ’98 tobacco, a hybrid and a bit of Pelo d’Oro too. First impressions are bold and savory with strong notes of hickory and leather. But it continues to take on a complex spiciness of saffron and cumin as well as a slight tangy note that brings the strength and spice together quite gracefully—and it only gets better with every puff.

Gomez owns the brand and company with his wife, Ines Lorenzo-Gomez. This marks the first time that La Flor Dominicana has been awarded No. 1 Cigar of the Year.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

San Lotano Maduro: Black Is Black

Years ago, I thought maduro cigars were the greatest thing. Perhaps because they were different from what I was used to. In 2011 I received a box of San Lotano Maduro as a birthday gift and they did not last long. Today if I had a box of them, they would probably last a year or more.

Brand/ Name of Cigar: San Lotano/ Maduro

Country of origin: Nicaragua 
Wrapper: Mexican Maduro
Binder: Honduras and Dominican ( Dual Binder )
Filler: Honduras and Nicaragua
Shape: Toro, 6 x by 54 X, Box Pressed
Where and when smoked: 11/20/16 , Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles Ca.

Appearance/Construction: 

Dark brown, depending on the light almost black. Solid box press, tight, and oily to the touch. Smooth almost slick feel to the wrapper. A very sharp looking,  well made cigar.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

Initially it was a rich mixture of chocolate, sweetness and a candy quality bordering on brown sugar. These are the best characteristics of a well made maduro. Also, a bit of a spice blast but not overpowering.

Smoking Characteristics: 

The smoke had an even burn, very pleasant looking grey ash and did not lose it’s solid
construction.  The cigar held it’s shape which is a plus as some smokes as we know lose their  integrity as down the road. Did not burn hot or have any issues.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

I stand by my original thought that maduro cigars will be a once in awhile occasion for me. The flavor, construction and smoking experience was a nice ride but the nuances of a great smoke was not there. I liken it  to being on the 405 on a non rush moment in LA. Glad the traffic was moving but the view was nothing special. I would rather be on the Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean. For maduro smokers, this is an unqualified hit. For me, if someone gave me this cigar I would smoke it, not sure I would buy it.

Final Thoughts and numbers:  

Appearance/ Construction: 4 out 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 3.5 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3.5 out 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.8 out of 5                                                                    

For maduro smokers this is a must for your humidor, for others, a good but occasional change for your usual . A good choice however.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The UrbanFishing Pole.

Fidel Castro Dead At 90

Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who would rule the island for nearly five decades, has died at 90.

Born in 1926 to Spanish immigrants to Cuba, Castro would become politically active as a laws student at the University of Havana in the mid-1940s and quickly became a critic of then-president Ramón Grau. In 1950, Castro co-founded a law practice for the far that ultimately provoked unsuccessful. He then planned to run for congress in the 1952 elections, but Fulgencio Batista took control of the country in a military coup and cancelled the elections.

Castro began a variety of attempts to remove Batista from power starting with lawsuits that proved fruitless before ultimately turning to the idea of overthrowing the government.

fidel_castro

In 1959, after nearly a decade of fighting, Castro and his MR-26-7 movement (26th of July Movement) succeeding in overthrowing the army of Batista.

Castro then started a government of his own and transitioned Cuba to a communist country. This included the seizing and nationalized of private owned businesses including all of Cuba’s tobacco industry.

In 1962, days before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. extended its embargo to include almost all Cuban goods, cutting off Cuba’s cigars and other products from the world’s largest market.

Castro himself was a cigar smoker. The modern Cohiba brand was started in the mid-1960s as a private label for Castro himself. In 1968, Cubatabaco launched the brand to be used as diplomatic gifts and in 1982 Cohiba would be offered for sale.

In 2006, an ailing Castro relinquished powers to his brother Raúl.

Over the last decade, Raúl and President Obama have made significant strides towards dismantling many of the restrictions created by the embargo. American consumers are now able to bring back Cuban cigars they purchased abroad, commercial flights to Cuba resumed earlier this year and many of the economic restrictions on the island regarding private businesses and foreign investments have been moderately relaxed.

*Credit: Halfwheel

A.J. Fernandez Crafts A Montecristo

Smokers will soon be able to smoke a Montecristo cigar as imagined and interpreted by cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez. In a collaboration with cigar distributor Santa Clara Inc., Montecristo Crafted By A.J. Fernandez is the newest version of the heritage Montecristo brand.

Altadis U.S.A. owns the U.S. trademark for Montecristo. Both Santa Clara and Altadis U.S.A. are run by Tabacalera U.S.A., which is an arm of Imperial Brands PLC.

Made in Nicaragua at the A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua factory in Estelí, Fernandez worked with Altadis’ Grupo de Maestros to develop this new Montecristo, which consists of Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder and filler from Nicaragua and Honduras.

Montecristo Crafted By A.J. Fernandez will come in five sizes: Churchill at 7 inches by 50 ring gauge; Figurado, at 4 by 52; Gordo at 6 by 58; Robusto, 5 by 52; and Toro, 6 by 50.

This would be the second time that Altadis has collaborated with a third-party producer to make a . In 2014, Nestor Plasencia worked with Altadis to create the Espada by Montecristo line. Other recent collaborative releases include the Henry Clay Tattoo (with Tatuaje Cigars) and the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room (with Boutique Blends).

This would also be the second time that A.J. Fernandez has the opportunity to interpret a heritage brand. The Hoyo La Amistad is his version of the storied Hoyo de Monterrey brand, which is owned by General Cigar for sale in the U.S.

The cigars should be widely available later this month.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

California Passes Higher Cigar Tax

The good news is, voters in three states—Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota—yesterday defeated ballot measures that sought to raise the tax on cigars in their respective states. The bad news is that California voters didn’t.

More than 62 percent of California voters opted to pass Proposition 56, which will raise the tax on cigars in the state by a whopping 153 percent. Currently, the tax on cigars is 27.3 percent of the wholesale cost, but this vote will lead to a new tax that’s expected to be 69.2 percent of the wholesale cost. The state, one of the world’s largest markets for cigars, is unusual because it bases its cigar tax on the rate of taxation on cigarettes. The new tax will likely take effect on July 1 of next year.

La_Gloria_serie_R_Black_Maduro_open_right_facing

This means that the state tobacco tax for a $10 cigar will jump from $2.73 to $6.92.

Fortunately, cigar smokers in Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota won’t have to worry about increased taxes, as voters in all three states defeated measures that would have raised the tax on cigars sold in those states.

In Colorado, Amendment 72, which sought to raise the cigar tax to 62 percent, was defeated. Approximately 53.6 percent of voters opposed the bill, with 46.4 percent supporting it.

North Dakota’s Initiated Statutory Measure 4, which sought to double the cigar tax, was soundly defeated by 61.52 percent of voters.

Eligible voters in Missouri voted no on two tobacco-related measures, Amendment 3 and Proposition A. While both measures looked to raise cigarette taxes, Proposition A included language that called for an additional 5 percent sales tax to OTP products, which include cigars. However, 55.26 percent of eligible voters said no to the measure.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

La Palina Cigar: You Get What You Need

The name of this cigar does not roll off your tongue very easily. Cigar marketing has become so elaborate trying to distinguish one brand from another.
Even within their own brand names may become confusing. The cigar consumer may think they are smoking one cigar that someone told them about but the cigar lines become confusing.
As always, how or where I received the cigar does not impact my subjective judgment about the review.

Cigar Specs:

Brand/Name of Cigar: La Palina / El Ano 1896 Oscuro
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua 
Size: 5 x 52, Robusto
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Oscuro
Binder: NA
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua 
Place and Date Purchased: Gratis
When and where smoked:  Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles , Ca. 10/16/2016

Appearance and Construction:

Boxed press, dark brown wrapper, and a very classy black and gold band. The cigar also had a impressive looking wrapper that covered the whole body. I almost did not want to take the printed wrapper off it was so good looking. However, my job was to report on the cigar blend, not just look at it.  It was very solid and slightly oily to the touch. No blemishes or soft spots were evident.  Well constructed with no obvious imperfections.

 Flavor/ Taste Aroma:

There was an initial hit of chocolate/coffee combo.  A patron of the lounge commented to me the aroma of nuts was quite noticeable. The cigar was generally milder than I thought it would be. If you like classifications it medium in scope but not at all overpowering or spicy. Nothing in the first third of the smoke would be described as, “This is an unbelievable cigar.”

Smoking Characteristics:

Light grey ash which burned very cool and steady. There was no tunneling or edges that might have challenged the cigar smoker. The ash might be the most impressive point about the cigar. While this is clearly important, is it enough to make your purchase the smoke?

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:
As I stated earlier, the cigar had great construction, burn and ash. As for flavor it was underwhelming with no real feel or passion. The taste was muddled with no high points. If you like a good looking but not very complex blend, this could be your baby.
Final Thoughts and Numbers:
With a brand new blend, and the threat of the FDA  causing cigar companies rushing product  into production perhaps too early, this cigar needs to sit in the humidor for a decent amount of time. Maybe in the second run, La Palina could add some spice to the mix and give it some character.
The cigar shows some promise but right now it is a pass.
Appearance/ Construction:  4 out of 5
Flavor/ Taste Aroma: 2 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3.5 out of 5.
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3 out of 5