Monday, December 29, 2008

Oliva V (natural) Lancero

Oliva V (natural) Lancero
"Snap into a slim jim!"

I've had WAY too many great cigars this far, it's been one superb smoke after another. This one is the latest and I figured I'd drop a review down.

There she is, below-in all her glory. Granted, I tend to like my stogies thick...but I've been reading that the "cigar pros" think that the lancero format is the best one to truly appreciate a stogie...something about the "fact" that there is a higher wrapper to filler ratio so the nuances of the wrapper really come to the fore.

And here is a close up of the band.

This is a really great stogie, amigos. Get one. You will not regret it. I think I paid $6 for it at a shop.

The stogie had a rich brown coloration, not quite maduro, but very smooth and attractive. I don't normally get all gushy about the appearance but this stogie was elegant and smooth. It started out with a bit of tartness and black pepper and then gradually added some mocha and buttery creaminess. It changed several times and at the end it got fairly potent-but still in the "Medium" range on flavor and on strength. I paired this dude with a medium McDonald's coffee and both of them were gone in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

I had tried one other Oliva V Natural (in KC with Rico and Ry) and it was also outstanding but this one was...better. The flavors were "sharper"-possibly due to the thin form factor.

Was I embarrassed to smoke this girly thing? Sure.
Will I smoke another? As soon as I make room in my humidors, I'm buying a box of these dudes!

The plummage was great, the construction flawless, and the flavor was outstanding. I'd rate this as a 9.6 or maybe higher when you figure that this bad boy is (relatively) affordable.

Here I am enjoying this lancero...finishing it off in fact!

Ry and I don't always see eye to eye but this is one thing that brings the Family together! He likes'em too. Oliva is making some great smokes...I've enjoyed the V, the G (maduro), the O (maduro), and the Master Blends III, and all (especially the V and MMIII) are outstanding!

Here is a photo of the Fam (minus Ry and I), at the Garden City zoo. Anne-Marie wanted to see the new baby giraffe there and we headed West on Sunday afternoon.

Gurkha "Doble Maduro"

Mom and Dad gave me the groovy new Xikar lighter for Christmas. Some friends gave me the cool cutter. I purchased a Gurkha sampler pack for myself. Providence provided a perfect 65 degree afternoon here in Kansas City the day after Christmas. 65 degrees in December? Freakin' strange. I wasn't about to let this opportunity slip by.

I wasn't disappointed.

The Doble Maduro comes wrapped in a cedar sheath that I figured was purely cosmetic; hardly. The scent had penetrated the cigar and the flavor was greatly enhanced by it. This smoke was earthy and rich and stunningly smooth and even.

My Dad also gave me this jacket. It's a hand-me-down and perfect for smoking in tricky weather. I didn't really need it that day but who can resist donning the Marlboro Man image?

It was a perfect medium-bodied smoke. Flavorful (did I mention the cedar? Wow) but not overpowering and it came with a bit of a buzz. Lots of leather and wood.

The burn was even, the plumage good but not amazing, and it was well-built. I only used my lighter three times so it stayed lit (I've had trouble with that in the past).

There are few cigars that I've smoked to the nub; this is one of them. The other was a Perdomo Reserve Cameroon.

This one is better than the Nepalese Warrior I reviewed on this blog earlier. Considerably better. 9.0? 9.5 perhaps.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic Robusto 1979

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic Robusto 1979

I thought it might be fun to freeze my butt off today...and, at the same time, to revisit a cigar I had reviewed in the past. I grabbed a this "Pepin Black" in the robusto size (5 x 50), my trusty wool poncho (it's reversible too!) and headed for the outside.

Here's the label...

Here's the stogie...

I'll keep this brief...typing is tough because I still can't feel my damn fingers. The stogie was very, very good. It had been aging for a year and I think the "pepper blast" that usually hits me on the first few puffs had diminished. However, I picked up some good mocha flavors, along with some pepper, and overall I think that the aging improved the cigar.

This cigar doesn't change much (and lately I've really enjoyed those that do) but the burn was spot on, it had lots of plummage, and had a really pleasant "twangy" aroma.

The construction on this was pretty good too-again, I think that aging helped. These cigars DO NOT LIKE the cold and I've had some weird experiences with them when I smoke them outside in the winter. This one held up until the last inch or so, when the wrapper started peeling off.

I bought this for around $4 and it was a good deal (8.8 on my quickie review scale).

Here's a guest. She came outside to sit with me while I froze my butt off. Now THAT'S a loyal wife!

...ANd hear I am smoking in my gloves!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2008

La Flor Dominicana Coronado (Toro)

La Flor Dominicana Coronado (Toro)

First up, sorry for the poor pictures. It was colder than hell and I was smoking in the Honda...didn't have enough light for my "macro shots"!

Wow. This stick was very, very nice. The reddish-brown wrapper was leathery and had an oily sheen to it. Very few imperfections. It was a good size for me-6 x 50. The prelight had a very odd smell...I SWEAR it had some "food spice" odor to it like paprika or whatever the dominant spice is that is in worcestershire sauce. Whatever it was, it was very tasty and unique.

I lit it up and realized I had a major smoke on my hand. Flavors poured out of this smoke-I detected cinnamon, mocha, pepper, and other stuff that I couldn't identify. All of them were good. It was very complex and kept my attention on it.

About a third into it the cornucopia of flavors kind of died off and left me with a simpler cigar but it was still tasty. It left an aftertaste after each draw that lingered that reminded me of dry red wine.

The stogie was potent too. I hadn't eaten Lunch so I went and grabbed a small soda to get something sweet in my system...was afraid it would kick my butt if I didn't get something in my belly!

The band on this thing is...kind of gawdawfull. I think has some kind of stylized tiger or something on it. Seems cheesy for a cigar this fine.

Here's a close up of this cigar.

And here's me smoking it!

This was one of the best cigars I've had in a long time. Recently I've been smoking mostly Don Pepin Garcia smokes but when I've stepped away for something different, I keep reaching for Oliva or La Flor Dominicana cigars. So far I've had three of the L.F.D. cigars and two of them (this and the double ligero maduro chisel) were top notch.

Even with only one of these under my belt, I would easily put this cigar as one of my top 25 faves.

The LFD Coronado is a full smoke, full of flavor, with perfect construction. The aroma is potent and the smoke ample. These things retail for about $6 I think. I'm going to try one more the next time I hit a cigar store...if it's as good as this is, I'll save up for a box.

RTR Rough Rating: 9.5

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles (Robusto)

Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles (Robusto)

It's a chilly but clear night in November...I've got my Tatuaje Havana IV, my Chivas Regal scotch, and my mini laptop...and life is good. Very good. Can't recommend the scotch but the rest of it is the bomb!

This cigar doesn't look like much and the rustic and simple band does little for me. In fact, I would never buy this (or the other Tatuaje cigars) if not for the rave reviews that they get. It smells good, though, a little spicy.

It starts off with a blast of pepper...very strong. The pepper doesn't really let up for an inch or two and the pepper is backed up with some pretty decent power. I smoked five cigars last weekend in Anthony (including a Cubao, a 601 Green, a Man O' War, and a Perdomo) I and never really got that nicotine hit...this Tatuaje had me reeling in two inches.

Here's a picture of the label..."Night Spider Style" (actually my macro doesn't work too well with the flash!)

Here's the label and stogie. Nothing too remarkable on the outside.

The stogie has a great draw and a very nice aroma-thick and spicy. The plumage wasn't grand but the small clouds it produces were very dense.

This is a great stogie. It burned straight and tasted great. They sell for around $7. I got mine for closer to $4 and for that price...I'm not sure how you can get a better cigar than this. I got an hour out of this bad boy.

Quick Rating: 9.5 (dinged only for it's cheap-ass band). The only other thing that could have improved it would have been some good (adult) company!

Here's my guest reviewer. She came outside every few minutes to let me know what was happening on the Madagascar cartoon she was watching.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Old Henry lancero

My bro, who traded me this Old Henry lancero stogie, told me it was a house brand for Holt's Cigar Company, made by Don Pepin Garcia. I'd had one before that wasn't a lancero, and maybe hadn't been much aged, and didn't remember liking it as much as this one.
  • Appearance - 8.5 \ Cool label, but the nipple tie-off and the lancero format put me off at first.
  • Burn - 10 \ Great hour-long smoke -- no problems whatsoever. Wonderfully worry-free. I attribute that to the design, maybe the aging, and to the lancero form factor.
  • Draw - 9 \ Great. No worries.
  • Plummage - 8 \ Fully good for the lancero shape.
  • Flavor - 8 \ Great stuff. Not awesome, but really solid and likable.
  • Overall - 9 \ Just dug this smoke, which was easy to enjoy while I studied on the porch.
Here's to the occasional smoke break, even as cities bar you from enjoying them at pubs and the winter months approach.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero 700

It's after two am. I got a diabetes walk, an Outlaw cigar event and an orchestra benefit to go tomorrow, not to mention more weekend work. I hung with friends down in the "deep south" of KC's Kansas suburbs with Kell, then whiled away the early morning hours just now finishing up more song ratings while enjoying a fantastic smoke. The La Flor Dominicana DL 700's are among the stoutest of smokes, but still smooth. Had 2 the past several weeks and I dug 'em both.

Probably better put this blog in the can and get few hours of sleep before me and my baby gotta get up again.

  • Appearance - 9 \ Borders on too damn big looking (mild research suggests something like 6.5X60). But it's not stupidly big. Just big. And solid-looking. La Flor Domininca's got a nice traditional-with-flair band.
  • Burn - 10 \ It holds up to almost two hours of smoking of my notorious fast-toking style. Needed no touch-ups, had no cracks nor even soggy tipped-ness.
  • Draw - 9.5 \ Awesome. The resistance wasn't cumbersome and just made the stogie last longer.
  • Plummage - 9 \ Probably coulda been higher volume, but I didn't smoke it that way. Smells rich as you puff away.
  • Flavor - 10 \ One of my favorites, but smooth. Not the normal spiciness I go after. Just solid textures of flavor that roll around on you.
  • Overall - 10 \ Goes into one of my current favorites. If only I could get it for a reasonable price, rather than the $7-11/stick retail range.
Awesome stogie experience on the Twilight Lounge with the new moodlighting and our Halloween gargoyle. G'Night, dear readers!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve (Maduro)

Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve (Maduro)
6.5 inches x 52 ring gauge
Aged 1.5 years from purchase

Wow. This was a rich cigar.

To start, it has a nice band and presentation-very rustic but very classy. The maduro wrapper smells sweet-one big vein and multi colors of maduro make it look kind of rustic but it exudes an aura of specialness-that's why I let it sit so long! Has a vague box press that really like-not too squared or severe. Some of those super pressed ones make me think I'll cut myself on the edges!

First few puffs give a mellow maduro flavor with a slightly loose draw. I was a little worried but the draw was not an issue at all. Most of the maduros I’ve enjoyed lately have been peppery/strong maduros but this one was the richest and smoothest maduro I've ever had.

I had been holding back on this…for a special occasion. I’m not a big Rocky Patel fan but this cigar just seemed like something I should dress up for, you know? The muted wrapper and sophisticated packaging seemed above my pay grade...but I have some exciting career developments so I bit the bullet. I really enjoyed it. Sweet maduro/coffee/cocoa smoke smell. Really nice.

Here is the Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve with some scotch. Yummy!

Here's the band-photo doesn't really do it justice.

Reminded me a little of some other cigars I’ve had-I think it’s the Costa Rican wrapper…especially the Taboo Special Forces and their Exotic Maduro line.

It was long lasting too-after 1.5 hours it was still going with 1/3 left and I was getting overwhelmed.

I'm not a huge Rocky Patel fan...In fact, I'm not sure that any of his smokes would make it in my top twenty (dominated mostly by Punch and Don Pepin Garcia smokes...). However this stogie was a special dude and I'd buy it again. Sadly, it came in a sampler and if I was to buy another, they retail for around $8 or more (often $12) and that's too high for my blood.

As I enjoyed this cigar my mind wandered more than a bit...started really missing some of the good friends and good times we've all had over the last few years. I wanted to throw some stogies and booze and d20's in the trusty Fit and head for Scott's Gaming Cabin, sounding the call, and roaring (put-putting?) towards good times and camaraderie. Sadly work and the cost of gas has really been throwing up walls...Smoking this cigar was a little bittersweet for me but I won't hold that against Rocky Patel's primo stogie.

I'd rate this cigar at 9.0. The high price lowers its value score and I did have to relight a few times. However, for a special occasion cigar, I think it would be a great choice.

Here's my guest appearance...Big Thane in his football uniform. He made me wait to take it until after he practiced...he said "I want to be sweaty in it". Yeah-that's my middle boy!

5 Vegas Miami

5 Vegas Miami
By Don Pepin Garcia and Cigars International

My fearless brother Rico reviewed this stogie not long ago...but in typical big brother fashion, I feel that I may have to double-check his work...and since the task at hand involves smoking a stogie and drinking beer, I may have to review it again...Practice makes perfect, yes? That reminds me of a joke H.T. makes from time to time about marrying an English Teacher...but I'll save that for another day...

Since it's a lazy Sunday, I might as well start off with a meandering course. Here's a photo of Ry and Holly enjoying a stogie at the Outlaw in Kansas City last month. Eric and Kellie hosted for us and it was Holly's birthday...and Don Pepin Garcia at the Outlaw may have made one of the most memorable birthdays for her ever! (possibly not in a good way for her but...)

Here's Kellie competing with Ry for the longest ash. I think she got second as Rico, Michelle and I weren't doing so well. We really enjoyed the bbq pork, free beer, and Don Pepin rolling event.

Here's the star of the show. The 5 Vegas Miami torpedo.

This smoke is created by DPG for Cigars International. It tastes nothing like the other 5 Vegas lines (which are pretty good for a house blend) and can be had for $3 apiece or so on They're $5 or more apiece on CI so I never buy them there. Not sure if you can get them anywhere else.

This stogie had a typical Pepin tangy smell and the prelight taste was peppery and a little tart-but not bitter. It was a smooth and attractive smoke. I really like the label-seems understated and classier than many other bands-really like the blue and gold.
I smoked this stogie while drinking Murphy's Irish Red and watching Rescue Me shorts on Youtube with Michelle. It was a great combo-the smoke did not demand my attention but several times I found myself really enjoying the combination of pepper, cocoa, and buttery love that Miami imparted. The Pepin "twang" that I crave was there, of course.

I could go on...but the bottom line is that I nubbed this baby. I give it 8.5. overall with construction and flavor being the stogie's biggest strength. I wish I could get these for $1.50 or $2 each-but hey, they're pretty good.

Rico's rating of 9.5 is a little high to me. However, there is no escaping the simple fact that the 5 Vegas Miami is a damn good smoke. I wonder if his higher rating is due to the undeniably exotic ambiance of the Twilight Lounge.

Here is my sweet sweet 5 Vegas Miami, getting close to the end!

And here's my triple-sweet daughter Anne-Marie with another guest appearance in my blog! She loves to make the funny faces.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oliva Angel 100 O.T.C.

Oliva Angel OTCThe Oliva Angel is not made by the Oliva family (the one you see at the cigar stores with the cute bands and the big "O"). It's made by the Oliva tobacco family-apparently they own a massive amount of tobacco and all the major brands use it to make cigars. They themselves have only made one cigar that I know of, the "Angel", and it is supposed to be honoring their patriarch-at least that's what I hear.

Apparently this cigar once retailed for around $9 but, when you can find it, it's discounted heavily. It's got a lot of Nicaraguan in it but also has some Peruvian tobacco in it-I think that's what gives it the unique taste that I enjoy. It could be the Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper though too. Hard to say. This one is a 6 x 48 corona and is a good size for me. I'm starting to realize that there are some really great cigars in the "smaller" ring gauges.

These sticks are a great bargain. I was very impressed when I got my first five pack-they come encased in a fairly nice little black wooden box where they snugly await your inspection. I have read that many fault this sticks on appearance (apparently some believe they are fugly sticks) but I have had no issues. They are box pressed and feel good in the hand.

The flavor is a little peppery and very rich. The burn is always solid. I've had about a dozen of these and have found them very consistent. My only complaint might be that the flavor doesn't change much but since it's a good flavor, I can live with that . To me, the Angel is one of those "good but not great" cigars that you can enjoy without having to commit to-It's the kind of smoke I enjoy when I'm working or when I'm watching something on the laptop on the porch.

At the price I pay ($2 a stick) they are a steal.

Solid 7.0 rating on it; 7.7 when you consider its value.

Here's my stick in my new "stinky" cigar ashtray. They finally came back in stock and I've been wanting one for awhile. I really like it. Designed by a cigar smoker. Love the deep bowl and little stirrups to hold the cigar-keeps the mouthy part of the cigar from getting ash all over it when you have to put it down, even if the cigar in question is very small...

There she is 1/2 way gone.

Here I am, enjoying Rescue Me on the porch with my Angel 100.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gran Habano, Corojo #5 (Red label)

So, Saturday was a good day for smoking. Later that night, Kellie and I met up with her friend Amanda Fuhrer and her boyfriend at their new apartment in Lincoln. We talked till the wee hours of the morning and I smoked another Gran Habano, this time the #5 red label Corojo. I didn't get much in the way of pictures, but I was reminded how much I love this cigar. Definitely one of my all-time favorites, and my second favorite among the Gran Habano Mega-Sampler from Cigars International. (See previous entry on the #3 black label).

So here are my ratings on this bad boy:
  • Appearance - 6 \ Classy double band label. Nice size, just looks a little small. Medium thickness.
  • Burn - 5 \ Needed some touch-ups.
  • Draw - 7 \ Great. Used a punch cut.
  • Plummage - 10 \ Amazing plumes of thick haze, with a strong rich aroma.
  • Flavor - 9 \ Awesome. Bold, with hints of other flavors mixed in.
  • Overall - 9.5 \Just a knock-down great smoke to enjoy.
Good stuff!

Gran Habano, Habano #3 (Black label)

I like all of my Gran Habano Mega-Sampler pack from Cigars International other than the Connecticuts. This is probably my third favorite of the 4 different types, though... Meaning that although I still dig these, they are somewhere between an everyday cigar and a really good cigar, to me. Generally I like the character of the 3 Siglos the best, then the red label Corojo (#5) is a very close second, and then this somehow more powerful Habano. It sort of seems like it has less nuance. Just -- boom -- here's your smack of strong taste and smoke clouds.

It was a beautiful day smoking this little guy. You can see that the size for the sampler stogies is modest -- but I think this size has become one of my favorites. It still can last you awhile, but it feels good in the hand and the mouth and fits easily in traveling cases.

I enjoyed this smoke out on the back porch of Dennis and Tammy Culhane's house in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a refreshing day of cool breezes and modest sun. A real change of pace from the torrential rains and humid scorchers in Kansas City the past many weeks. After we returned from Rib Fest (where I enjoyed some "Extremely Farking Hot" BBQ sauce, ribs and shrimp from an Aussie stand), I found Dennis and Tammy's back deck paradise. It looked like someone had landscaped it for some beach cottage getaway. Very cool place to sip some Evan Williams bourbon and smoke a stogie.

Kellie and her family occasionally came out and chatted me up or played with the dog. Dennis and I talked about his landscaping over the past 13 years at the house and he showed me pictures of how bare the yard was when they got it. Various people took turns throwing the soggy tennis ball around for the dog Aspen to energetically fetch it and return for more.

Here are my ratings:
  • Appearance - 6 \ Classy double band label. Nice size, just looks a little small.
  • Burn - 5 \ Needed some touch-ups.
  • Draw - 5 \ Fine.
  • Plummage - 8.5 \ I gave this a handicap at first for the cool breeze. When I got to the more enclosed part of the deck, this proved to be true, as the stick produced billows of hearty smoke.
  • Flavor - 6 \ Bold, but largely without character.
  • Overall - 6.75 \Likable, but not excellent.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tres Hermanos, Numero Dos

The Tres Hermanos, Numero Dos, is produced and sold by the New Orleans Cigar Factory. They describe it as "52 x 5 3/4' A full bodied robust smoke with a Mexican Maduro wrapper." I don't know where the filler comes from, but I'm a fan.

I smoked this one last night after a good meeting with a training company yesterday afternoon. After really enjoying a couple of these down in New Orleans, purchased right from the shops where they are made in the French Quarter, I decided to order a 10-pack last January. I gave several away at a game with the fellas, but have let the last of these age for 8 months now. They cost $5.30 apiece before the rather exorbitant $13 shipping charge. Although I don't normally pay that much for a cigar outside of retail, and certainly not several of them, I was charmed by these heavy-hitters and the fact that they're hand-rolled in New Orleans.
Anyway, I partook of this stogie with a Boulevard Pale Ale on the Twilight Lounge. My new rattan screen was in play to help allay the heat, which thankfully was not at full force anyway. My guest star is Kellie, who took a couple of tokes and agreed it was a good cigar.

Here are my ratings for this Nawlins darling:
  • Appearance - 7 \ Bold dark wrapper with a rough look that I like. The band is a simple but offbeat black and reflective silver. No real logo other than the letters themselves.
  • Burn - 6 \ had a bit of a runner that never really self-corrected, even after I slowed down on smoking it. However, one touch-up fixed my problem for the rest of the experience.
  • Draw - 5.5 \ a little too tight for the first half of the smoke. I did use a punch cut, which for this thickness seemed desirable, but it may have been a little long not to have clipped it. It definitely improved halfway through.
  • Plummage - 8.5 \ Produced likable little, dense clouds of smoke. Very nice spicy aroma gave it that something extra.
  • Flavor - 10 \ Rich, heavy, layered flavor.
  • Overall - 9.5 \Loved these on our New Orleans trip and at a few games. Plus the flavor has been consistently awesome for me, even if some of the other areas vary a little.
Overall, I'd describe this rough gem as a relaxing, full-bodied smoke with a spicy thick flavor. Better than Maxwell House, these puppies are good to the last drop.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vegas Cubana Generoso by Don Pepin Garcia

Vegas Cubana Generoso (6 x 50)
(purchased on sale, $2)

Here's the setup...winding down a hot Dodge City day...still 100 degrees in the dusty dusk shade. For some reason, Michelle decided to join me in the furnace on our back patio to help me enjoy/review this stogie. Given the temperature, I felt a Red Stripe beer would be a good choice...and I was right. Red Stripe hits the spot when it's hot and it never competes with a stogie for attention.

The wrapper is smooth and attractive. It has a slight reddish tint and is a corojo. It's supposed to be a Nicaraguan puro and is the cheapest of Don Pepin Garcia's personal line...I have had several (purchased on a special for $2 apiece) and all have tasted/performed the same.

DPG's marketing engine spews out a bunch of info about the cigar being made from the "top primings" of the tobacco plant and aged an extra year, as well as the fact that they are made by Cuban rollers living in Miami, at the DPG factory there. I have also read that this cigar is the first one that DPG made for his own company after coming to the USA.

This smoke starts off with a mild blast of pepper and then quickly settles down. I can taste a mixture of mild pepper and occasionally a mocha flavor at several points during the smoke. The smoke is consistant, fairly tasty, and undemanding. Although this smoke either gets overlooked or dogged by the Don Pepin fans out there, I think it's a great bargain...and should be compared to other smokes in general, not to his "better" smokes specifically. Though I would like to get his top of the line stuff at his bottom of the line prices, I think that's probably asking a little much.

Here's a pic of Michelle "guest-tasting" the cigar. Though she would not officially review this, she did sneak about six puffs, which is a goodly amount for her. She also commented "It is sharp but sweet at the same time". I tried to get more info from her but I suppose one cannot push the Oracle too much for clear answers...there is something to be said for mystery!

The aroma on these is very nice and is actually superior to the flavor. It's full of "big smoke" and the puffs are creamy. I imagined myself as a godlike "cloud generator", filling the sky with puffy bits of cloud-fun...then I smacked myself and assumed a more proper, manly posture.

The cigar burned a little roughly but only needed one touch up-just didn't look too pretty.

I think that this cigar is pretty solid-I'd buy more for $2-though I'm not sure I'd pay much more. My final thoughts, are that this cigar might be best enjoyed in a smaller format (robusto)...though it is tasty, has good smoke, doesn't change flavor much and by the 1/2 way point I'm wondering if I want to commit to the other 40 minutes of smoke...

This smoke rates 7.5 on my scale with value, construction and plumage/smell being the best parts of the experience.