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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.

New Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero

By now, STOGIES World Class Cigars’ H-Town Lancero Series should need no introduction. There is no store that is known for selling lanceros, typically the slowest moving vitola in a humidor, than the Houston-based retailer. So it was no surprise when the ongoing series of releases from different manufactures turned out to be exclusively composed of long and skinny vitola.

The newest release in the series is the Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero, a 7 x 38 lancero that incorporates the same Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper, Brazilian mata fina binder and Nicaraguan fillers tobaccos that were found in the company’s Herrera Estelí TAA 2016, which was released exclusively to members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America in April. As with all of the H-Town cigars, the new Herrera Esteli is a limited release, priced at $12 each with only 500 boxes of 15 cigars having been produced.

Produced at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Nicaragua, the Herrera Estelí Edición Limitada H-Town Lancero was released during STOGIE’s annual Big Damn Cigar Jamboree & Wingding last month.

The cigar is covered in an espresso brown wrapper that is devoid of oil and sandpaper rough to the touch. There are multiple viens running up and down the length, but none of them are overly annoying, though the cigar is quite spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of creamy oak, dark cocoa nibs, black pepper, manure and vanilla sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of a huge creamy oak, leather, gritty earth, peanuts and the same vanilla sweetness from the cold draw.

It starts off the first third with a very obvious and dominant creamy oak note carried over from both the aroma and cold draw, interspersed with lesser flavors of anise, barnyard, hay, fresh brewed coffee, cocoa nibs and leather. A wonderful vanilla sweetness is noticeable on the finish, while there is a small but obvious white pepper on the retrohale that seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. The draw is fantastic after a simple straight cut, the burn is razor sharp and the smoke production is massive off of the foot. Strength-wise, the H-Town starts off fairly mild, but ends up close to the medium mark by the time the first time comes to a close.

The vanilla sweetness that was such a major part of the profile in the first third seems to dissipate quite a bit in the second third of the H-Town, becoming less of a dominant flavor and more of a complimentary note that combines with the creamy oak coming right behind. Other flavors of cocoa nibs, black pepper, coffee beans, hay and gritty earth flit in and out, while there is a slight ancho chili note on finish that is gone almost as soon as I register it, although it is strong enough to throw off the balance a bit. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress, and while I have to correct the burn once just after the halfway point, it was never in any danger of getting out of control. The overall streghth easily hits the medium mark by the end of the second third, but seems to be content to stay at that level, at least for the time being.

Although it is never a major part of the profile, the ancho chili note on the finish continues to pop up now and again, screwing with the balance of the cigar when it is present. However, for the most part, the dominant flavors continue to be a very distinct creamy oak combined with hay and dark chocolate. Other notes of fresh coffee grounds, earth, barnyard, dried tea leaves, black pepper and a touch of floral are obvious at different points, while the vanilla sweetness from the first two thirds has morphed into more of a graham cracker note. The burn has evened up nicely and the draw continues to impress, and although the strength does increase slightly compared to the second third, it barely makes it past the medium mark before settling down for good, and I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

*Credit: Halfwheel

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

Davidoff Unveils Exclusive Corona FSG 20TH Anniversary

Since October 2014, Davidoff has been helping celebrate milestone anniversaries of its appointed merchants by producing limited edition cigars. In the case of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, Fla., Davidoff isn’t just making a cigar for the store’s 20th anniversary, it’s using some of owner Jeff Borysiewicz’s tobacco in the blend.

The Davidoff Exclusive Corona FSG 20th Anniversary is a 6 x 52 belicoso that uses a uniquely tailored blend of Florida Sun Grown and Dominican tobacco in the filler, bound with Mexican San Andrés Negro and wrapped in an Ecuador Connecticut Rojiza leaf. Davidoff noted that the Florida Sun Grown tobacco was reviewed and quality controlled under the same standards that every Davidoff product is held to, with the tobacco adding a spicy flavor and complexity. The cigar itself delivers a rich, full bodied profile with exceptional palate stimulation, according to a press release.

“We are very proud to be working with Davidoff and there is no way better to celebrate our 20 year milestone of becoming a leader in premium cigar retailing,” said Jeff Borysiewicz, president and founder of Corona Cigar Company, via a press release. “Our unique and exclusive Florida tobacco farm has truly allowed our company to come full circle as a premium cigar retailer as well as the world’s only grower of prized Florida cigar tobacco. We are excited to be able to share with fellow aficionados this unique Davidoff cigar that is blended with our 2014 crop of heirloom Florida Sumatra seed tobacco that was grown on our farm in Clermont, Florida.”

“The Borysiewicz family has been trusted colleagues of Davidoff for over 20 years,” noted Richard Krutick, vice president of marketing for Davidoff of Geneva USA, adding that “as one of our largest partners, the collaboration to create a 20th Anniversary Exclusive Edition incorporating FSG was a natural decision. Davidoff and Jeff Borysiewicz share many of the same philosophies and principles regarding cigar retailing and tobacco cultivation. It’s important for Davidoff to support Jeff and his family in their efforts to grow and protect the premium cigar industry in the US.”

*Credit: Patrick Lagrid, Halfwheel

Casa Magna Magnus II Limited: Looks Aren’t Everything

Some cigars look impressive. This was my  thought when I purchased the Casa Magna Magnus II Limited. I was scanning the humidor at the Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge in West Los Angeles looking for a new cigar to review.  I have tried several Casa Magna smokes before but it has been many years since my last taste.

Brand/ Name of Cigar: Casa Magna/ D. Magnus II Limitada
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua Jalapa Sungrown
Binder: Nicaragua 
Shape: Topedo
Price: $12.95 , Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, 4/1/16

Where and when smoked: Los Angeles, Ca.  5/1/16

Appearance / Construction:

As I stated earlier I thought very highly of the look of the cigar. Dark chocolate wrapper with a band that creates a real eye grabber. Solid, no soft spots, with an oily feel to the touch. Small veins with no discernible flaws. Overall it was a very bold looking cigar.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

The initial flavor had a combo of chocolate, coffee and a hint of maple. I was not expecting this as I was looking for spice and pepper. Yet, it was a strong taste and pretty bold but not overpowering. The aroma was pleasant, nutty and sweet.

Smoking Characteristics:

The burn was uneven with a dark ash and cool burn. Flavor stayed on course with the same profile I started out with. More spice and pepper flowed through but I liked the overall mix of the blend. No relights but needed to make a correction to even out the smoke.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

This was a tale of two different cigars. The construction looked very solid. The flavor profile was good but also had bouts of bitter and harsh notes.  It was a respectable smoke but hoped for more.

Final Thoughts:

At $12.95 it needed to be the “bomb.” Too many issues to rate it as a must have cigar.  Here are the numbers.

Appearance/Construction: 4 out of 5
Flavor/ Taste and Aroma: 3 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3 out of 5
Overall : 3 out of 5

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

Lavida Habana: Age Before Beauty

What makes a great cigar? This issue has been debated I suspect since the first cigar was rolled. Still, some of the basic concepts are straightforward. Cigar construction, appearance, how the blend holds throughout the smoke. Three different folks can smoke the same cigar and come up with different thoughts in every aspect of the totality of the smoke.
The reason I (Frank) mention this is a new cigar and is more of a challenge. There is no track record so the first impression is very important. If you have a good experience more than likely the review will be better. So a reviewer needs to make careful considerations in describing what he smoked. Ideally, the cigar in question needs to be aged properly, and perhaps smoked again.

Brand/Name of Cigar : Lavida Habana / LH Premium Colorado 

Size: 6 x 60
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Nicaragua, Peru and Brazil
Shape: Gordo
Price: Single $ 8.24
When and where smoked: 2/21/16, Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, West Los Angeles, Ca

lavida habana

Appearance/ Construction:

Densely packed and oily to the touch. Very classy looking smoke, like the red and black band. Several small veins were evident but would not consider this a flaw. No soft spots. This looks like a big smoke and looking forward to a long ride.

Smoking Characteristics:

First third got immediate hints of orange which I did not expect, a pleasant surprise. Burn was even, medium body. As I smoked further hints of mint? Chocolate? Not sure exactly. Whatever it was, very subtle, not overpowering. Smooth draw, no harshness, plenty of grey smoke and ash.

Two thirds into the smoke, some tunneling occurred yet did not find this a distraction or an impact on the blend. However, I was waiting for an additional pop of spice and this didn’t happen. Was thinking the smoke would crank up a bit.

Conclusion/ Overall Impression:

The flavor profile never really took off. I did not get any more complexity which was somewhat of a come down. Overall this was a good smoke but not a powerful one. I thought it would be more of a kick ass cigar.  This is not necessarily a bad thing for those cigar dudes who like a pleasant but not overpowering blend.

lavida habana2

Frank’s overall rating of this cigar:

Appearance/ Construction: 4 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3 out of 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression; 3.5 out of 5

Will try this cigar again down the road. I think another couple of months in the humidor will give it a more hearty blend.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter,  The Urban Fishing Pole (http://theurbanfishingpole.blogspot.com/)

Gurkha Partners With Hartfield & Company For Bourbon Collection

Gurkha Cigars has partnered with Kentucky-based Hartfield & Company for a new line of bourbon-infused cigars, the Gurkha Bourbon Collection.

The company isn’t disclosing specific details about the blend, other than that two wrappers are being used for the project. The Churchill vitola (7 x 47, $12) uses a maduro wrapper from an undisclosed country, while the Toro (6 1/2 x 52, $10) uses a natural wrapper, again from an undisclosed origin. The company is hailing them as medium-bodied with richness from the bourbon infusion and a balanced and complex profile.

“There is no better marriage than pairing Gurkha’s premium leaf with Kentucky’s own Hartfield & Company’s small-batch bourbon,” said Kaizad Hansotia, founder and ceo of Gurkha Cigars. “This union provides an incredible sensory experience that releases the rich taste of the leaf and the smoothness of their handcrafted bourbon like no other. We’re excited to announce our collaboration with Hartfield & Company and launch our new cigars at this year’s IPCPR show.”

Gurkha-Hartfield-and-Company

“When thinking about what Gurkha has meant to the cigar community for decades, it was incredibly humbling when they asked us, a new craft distillery, to join them in this partnership,” said Andrew Buchanan, founder and head distiller at Hartfield & Company. “Combining the legacy of Gurkha Cigars with our handcrafted bourbon made in Bourbon County, KY, was simply too incredible to pass up. In creating our bourbon, we focused on the complexity of the flavor and the experience we wanted when we sat down with a glass of bourbon. A fine cigar company does much the same thing. With two expertly crafted products combined into one, you have the chance to broaden the flavor profile and enhance the overall experience. Partnering with Gurkha Cigars seemed to be a very natural fit.”

According to a press release from Gurkha Cigars, Hartfield & Company is the first distillery to open in Bourbon County, KY, since 1919. It was founded in 2014 by Andrew and Larissa Buchanan, and is the first distillery to reestablish itself in the birthplace of Bourbon.

“Our Bourbon Whiskey brings together the flavors of corn and rye, both of which are Kentucky sourced, and malted barley that creates a grain-forward, balanced bourbon,” said Buchanan. “Caramel, vanilla and oak are all present. They combine with smoke and leather from the barley, pepper from the rye and sweetness from the corn that results in a new style of bourbon from the home of bourbon: Bourbon County, Ken.”

*Credit: Patrick lagreid from Halfwheel.

*Image via Hartfield & Co.’s Facebook page.